This week’s blog post is not strictly art, but ties in nicely to the architecture tour I took this past weekend of The Eames House, a national historical landmark of mid-20th century modern architecture, in Pacific Palisades, California. Also known as Case Study House No. 8 of Arts & Architecture magazine’s (now defunct) The Case Study House Program, The Eames House was one of about 24 homes built under the program, which ran intermittently from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s.
In launching the program, the magazine’s editor posed a challenge to the architecture community in which it was announced that the magazine would be the client for a series of homes designed to express man’s life in the modern world post World War II. According to the Eames Foundation website, the case study homes were to “be built and furnished using materials and techniques derived from the experiences of [World War II]” and “[e]ach home would be for a real or hypothetical client taking into consideration their particular housing needs.”
The Eames House was constructed in 1949 and served as the home and studio of Charles Ormond Eames, Jr and Bernice Alexandra “Ray” Eames during their lifetimes. Charles and Ray Eames were husband and wife American designers recognized for having made significant historical contributions to the development of modern architecture and furniture. The couple also worked in the fields of industrial and graphic design, fine art and film.
The Eames House has become known as an iconic structure toured by people from all over the world. Although my tour was limited to the exterior only, I was able to view the interior of the main floor level through open doors and the many windows. What is particularly fascinating is that the interior, its art objects and its collections are said to remain very much the way they were during the couple’s lifetimes. The house enabled the creative couple to live in a space where “work, play, life, and nature co-existed.”
In 2011, the contents of the Eames’ living room, among which included many art objects, were reassembled at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as a highlight of the exhibition “California Design, 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way”. After the exhibition closed, the contents were returned to the house and were arranged back in place as if they had never been moved from the house.
Stepping onto the eucalyptus tree-lined property tucked away off a residential street (which also includes nearby Case Study House Nos. 9 (Eames and Saarinen) and 20 (Neutra), the latter of which is currently on the market for nearly $15 million), one is immediately transported to the mid-20th century with the colorful Eames House perched above the meadow and expansive ocean views (if no fog) from the far end of the property. I can just imagine both Charles and Ray Eames busily working away in their studio on various creative endeavors and enjoying life among nature during their active years.
The Eames House is operated by the Eames Foundation established in 2004 and run in part by Charles and Ray Eames’ grandchildren. The foundation has overseen the conservation of The Eames House and has preserved Charles and Ray Eames’ vast collections and decor. The house was left mostly untouched after the Eames had passed away. The Eames Foundation uses the studio today for its continuing work in preserving, protecting and maintaining the Eames House, and providing educational experiences that celebrate the legacy of Charles and Ray Eames.
For further information on The Eames House and the conservation of same as well as the Eames’ work, visit a discussion of the history of the Eames House, information on its preservation and restoration, and discover the work of the Eames Office.