NPR on How Charles and Ray’s Home “Made Life Better by Design”

NPR presented a segment, Charles And Ray Eames Made Life Better By Design; Their Home Was No Exception, on “All Things Considered” by arts correspondent Mandalit del Barco.
Lucia Dewey Atwood, the Eames Foundation’s 250 Year Project Director, and docent Jennifer Polito spoke of the home’s site, industrial materials, objects, and irreplaceable value toward the history of modern architecture. Susan Macdonald of the Getty Conservation Institute mentioned the conservation similarity between the Eames House and sites with ancient ruins.

Below is an excerpt from the story. Listen to the segment in its entirety here

“On a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the Eameses built their house and studio with off-the-shelf, prefabricated materials. Steel beams painted black framed the glass walls and doors. Panels like a Mondrian painting: a block of cobalt blue here, a bright red-orange insert there.

‘Ray and I worked on it, we designed it together.’ That’s Charles Eames in 1956. On the TV show Home, he described their home to host Arlene Francis. ‘It’s composed of standard factory units.” Arlene replied, “Standard factory units that don’t look very standard or very factory in those pictures—that’s what your beautification has done for them, you and Ray.’

It was known as Case Study House #8 for a program challenging architects to design modern, inexpensive residence in postwar Southern California. It’s now a National Historic Landmark.

The Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) has been helping plan for its future. Having preserved tombs in Egypt and ancient ruins in China and Latin America, the Institute’s turn to conserving to modern architecture. Susan Macdonald is the GCI’s Head of Buildings and Sites: ‘Can we treat modern buildings the same way that we can buildings from the ancient world? Our thesis was: we can.’ So far, that’s meant repairing the flat roof, replacing the asbestos floor tiles, and installing a device to measure air particulates. Meanwhile, the house remains open to visitors.”