inkwell.vue.147 : Eames Demetrios: An Eames Primer
permalink #76 of 135: Eames Demetrios (eamesdemetrios) Sat 27 Apr 02 12:27
    
Nice points, all.

I think it is key to observe that Charles and Ray were good with words
too.  And the nice thing about Design Q and A is that it allows one to
focus on how intentional their subtlety and ambiguity was.

And I think the point about pleasure is important to their connection
ot modernism: the guest/host relationship and even the honest use of
materials acknowledge the subjective, human, and human dimensions of
design and architecture.
  
inkwell.vue.147 : Eames Demetrios: An Eames Primer
permalink #77 of 135: Eames Demetrios (eamesdemetrios) Sat 27 Apr 02 12:31
    
To Mr Swanson,

I have either the heartbreaking (if he missed it) or memory stirring
(if he saw it) information that Mathematica was at the Pacific Science
Center in Seattle about a year ago.

We had also hoped that they might take the big Eames show as well but
that did not work out.

We have been hoping that OMSI or the Portland Art Museum might take
our Powers of Ten show (which has an Eames bio section but is mostly
new) or the big show, but  neither materialized.  However, there may be
an opening for a venue  in about a year or so for the big Eames show
if you know a museum or curator or director we should contact.  let me
know!
  
inkwell.vue.147 : Eames Demetrios: An Eames Primer
permalink #78 of 135: Eames Demetrios (eamesdemetrios) Sat 27 Apr 02 12:50
    
>I was wondering how you or the Eames might integrate your
industrial design/ furniture design interest in architecture?<

Well, first I think the connection is extremely direct.  Charles often
said that the chair design was simply architecture at the human scale
and that was even part of the appeal for him.  He felt that with
large-scale architecture there were so many things that almost
conspired to get in the way of the core idea that it could be quite
frustrating.  

I think the iterative process would be one to attempt to pull more
into architecture.  I am not persuaded that the CAD revolution has lead
to the modelling of as many potential ideas on individual projects as
it might have.  In other words, it should have allowed architects to be
lavish with modelled ideas, instead (for plausible economic reasons,
driven perhaps by developers and clients) it has allowed them to be
quicker and thus cheaper.  I say this not scientifically, but as an
impression. 

But in any event Charles said, "the whole bit has been applying
architecture to problems."  [If you go here and you have the shockwave
plugin you can click on an area which will let you hear Charles say
that.
http://www.powersof10.com/powers/eames/station_88.html]
So I like the idea of a feedbackloop where now architecture gets
re-infused with the lessons of design--and I think the keys include:
the guest/host relationship, modelling, and the iterative process. 
Just some thoughts.
  
inkwell.vue.147 : Eames Demetrios: An Eames Primer
permalink #79 of 135: (fom) Sat 27 Apr 02 13:55
    
  >However, there may be an opening for a venue in about a year or so for 
   the big Eames show if you know a museum or curator or director we 
   should contact.  let me know!  

San Francisco! Chicago!
  
inkwell.vue.147 : Eames Demetrios: An Eames Primer
permalink #80 of 135: pointy, but rarely undeservedly savage (vard) Sat 27 Apr 02 17:44
    

This is such a selfish parochial question but I am going to just go for 
it. Those of us with Greek names always notice other Greek names and I 
have to know if you called Charles and Ray "Papou" and "Yiayia" when you 
were small. For some reason, if you did, that would give me a lot of 
enjoyment to know.


(and: fascinating interview! count me as another hoping the show will make 
it to Portland!)
  
inkwell.vue.147 : Eames Demetrios: An Eames Primer
permalink #81 of 135: Eames Demetrios (eamesdemetrios) Sun 28 Apr 02 15:48
    
to vard,

unfortunately (from the stand point of Greek-American solidarity) my
family name of Demetrios is on my father's side and has nothing to do
with Charles and Ray who are my grandparents on my mother's side. 
Eames is a name with Welsh antecedents, but that was a long time ago. 
If anything, because of his father's death when he (Charles) was
relatively young, Charles was raised by French aunts (his mother's
maiden name was Lambert).

Oh well.  But my grandparents on the Demetrios side were remarkable
people too.  One was a sculptor and the other an author of Children's
books.
  
inkwell.vue.147 : Eames Demetrios: An Eames Primer
permalink #82 of 135: Bob Rossney (rbr) Sun 28 Apr 02 17:03
    
Another avenue about the Eameses that I'd like to explore.

I think it's clear that these were remarkably creative, humane people who
faced the world with both playfulness and deep analytical thought.  They
were artists with great personal and (as a result) aesthetic integrity.

At the same time, look at their client list:  IBM, Westinghouse, the US
Information Agency, Polaroid . . . it's a Who's Who of the Establishment,
circa 1960.  At a time when the US was, as the myth puts it, smack dab in 
the middle of the tightly-wrapped, repressed, uniform, sanitized 
Eisenhower 1950s, the Eameses assemble a massive multimedia presentation
for the USIA and show it in Moscow and nobody in the government looks at 
it first!

Something isn't right in this picture.  Actually I think a lot of things 
aren't right, and most of the things that aren't right are our perceptions
of what that time was really like and how things got done in, say, 1957.
I know that you address this a little in the book; can you expand on those
ideas?  I got the definite impression that you think that our institutions
are considerably more hidebound today than they were in the 1950s.
  
inkwell.vue.147 : Eames Demetrios: An Eames Primer
permalink #83 of 135: Eames Demetrios (eamesdemetrios) Mon 29 Apr 02 09:00
    
Well, as you say, a couple of things aren't right in the picture.
First of all, American experience isn't, and probably has never been,
as uniform as it is often made out to be.  Specifically, in the 1950s,
alot of different things were going on (that's a pretty bland
statement: what I meant was that culturally and politically more was
happening than the Man in the Grey Suit).

Today, ironically, despite being more liberal, the corporate culture
has far less sense of civic obligation--and is never rewarded for it on
Wall Stree-- and there is very little room for long-term thinking that
is not also shortterm thinging.  That's a contradiction in terms.

MBAs dissect their own companies on purely economic terms and then are
surprised by employees not buying into non-economic things like
loyalty.

But I think Charles put it very wwell about the Glimpses of the USA
show (the one in Moscow):

"While we were doing it for the State Department, why we were somehow
or other remarkably free in doing it.  It’s largely through
circumstance.  I sometimes suspect that the attention and criticism and
watching that people get for… often comes through...people that, sort
of, in a sense, they ask for approval and sort of get a criticism.  We
didn’t ask for approval or criticism, and they were having sufficient
problems in the State Department, I suppose.  And no one paid any
attention."

I think that is harder these days, because corporations have entered
this kind of post-modern phase where they are SO self-conscious and
self-aware that they are reluctant to let things just happen.  This
ironically means that less of the good stuff upon which legacies are
built is permitted.  On the other hand, I suspect there are ways to get
through.
  
inkwell.vue.147 : Eames Demetrios: An Eames Primer
permalink #84 of 135: Eames Demetrios (eamesdemetrios) Mon 29 Apr 02 09:04
    
Also, Castle asked me to post this link for volume 4 of the Eames
films (it has Design Q&A quoted above) on it:

http://www.eamesoffice.com/catalog/detail.php?category=179&prod_id=252

this is for the vhs, we also have it on DVD.  It is unbelievably worth
seeing.

this is the URL for the Design Diagram created at the same time:

http://www.eamesoffice.com/catalog/detail.php?prod_id=193&category=159

between Design Q & A and the diagram, you've got a whole passel of the
Eames approach.
  
inkwell.vue.147 : Eames Demetrios: An Eames Primer
permalink #85 of 135: (fom) Mon 29 Apr 02 09:06
    
I love the page in the Primer where you show the several draft versions 
of the Design Diagram. Love to examine it with a magnifying glass.
  
inkwell.vue.147 : Eames Demetrios: An Eames Primer
permalink #86 of 135: Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 29 Apr 02 09:42
    

What I love about discovering the Eames and their work through this 
discussion is finding out that I was surrounded by it and never knew.

For example, one thing in my childhood that had a major impact on me was 
the Mathematica exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in 
Exposition Park in Los Angeles.  We went there on a field trip when I was 
in fourth grade.  That was the first time I saw the exhibit - it would 
have been 1960, 61, somewhere in there.  And it remained in place well 
into my adulthood.  I returned again and again and again to see it and 
Shirley Temple's dolls which were in the basement.  Because I struggled 
with math, the cube with the lightbulbs that lit up when you pressed the 
buttons for the multiplication tables was of particular interest to me.  
Also the probability curve, and definitely the little Moebius band train.

It wasn't until we started working with Eames to get this interview in 
inkwell that I discovered that was the brainchild of Charles and Ray.  

I imagine that there are lots and lots of other things.  For example, 
following one of Eames' links above, I came to a clip of the film 
Erastothenes (sp?) and I realized I'd seen it in school.  And I can't help 
but wonder what other things I've encountered in my life that the Eameses 
were responsible for and I just never realized it.
  
inkwell.vue.147 : Eames Demetrios: An Eames Primer
permalink #87 of 135: (fom) Mon 29 Apr 02 10:04
    
You have sat on Eames chairs in airports -- that's almost a certainty.
  
inkwell.vue.147 : Eames Demetrios: An Eames Primer
permalink #88 of 135: Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 29 Apr 02 14:13
    
E-mail from Steve Cabella:
 
Can you tell us what design "heroes" the Eameses had over the years?
Buckminster Fuller seems obvious. I know that Charles admired Dr. Peter
Schlubohm, the inventor of the Chemex coffee maker, and 40 other Chemex
designs. The good Dr. was often quoted saying" I am not a designer, these
things look the way they look because that¹s they way they have to look, to
work". BTW- there are many photos, starting in the late forties, that
picture Charles and Ray with their Chemex. And two of the Hollywood films
that Charles worked on in the 1950¹s as a design consultant used the Chemex
coffee makers as props on the sets, as well. (as you can see in the new
movie about the Eameses in Hollywood, this Wednesday in S.F. at the
Exploratorium.)

 I can see where the Eameses took some of the edges off of the lifestyles of
"square" and corporate America and certainly the must be given credit for
some of the "cooler" cultural direction America took in the 1950¹s and
Sixties. What effect did the counter culture movement of the Sixties have on
the Eames Office or how much effect did the Eames Office have on the counter
culture movement?
I know there is the story of the Diggers paying a visit to the Eames Office
and being treated to films and a classic Eames style picnic, and I would
assume that other counter culture members paid a visit as well. We know many
people have literally "tripped" out on many of the classic Eames films such
as Powers of Ten. And I would venture to suggest that the Eames own highly
publicized eclectic lifestyle and décor was an appealing and layered visual
style for many nostalgia appreciative hippies. The office décor seems to
have the feel of funk, before there was funky. Kind of a pre funk
arrangement of objects, with an arrangement or display with no waste of a
visual opportunity.

Thanks for the lecture the other day in the City!
Steve Cabella
  
inkwell.vue.147 : Eames Demetrios: An Eames Primer
permalink #89 of 135: Simon Beeson (jonl) Tue 30 Apr 02 05:37
    
Email from Simon Beeson:

I'm interested to know more about Charles Eames and his Froebel Kindergarten.

Is there any documentation on either his own experiences or the Kindergarten
he experienced?

My own intererest is in Sculpture, Play and Architectural Pegagogy, as both an
architectural educator and in alternative forms of practice.

Learning through doing is clearly a development of Froebels methods of
pre-language learning and play. And the Eames office works are permeated with
both exploratory practice and play.
  
inkwell.vue.147 : Eames Demetrios: An Eames Primer
permalink #90 of 135: Eames Demetrios (eamesdemetrios) Tue 30 Apr 02 23:01
    
As for encountering Charles and Ray in unrealized ways: I think that
they affected film and commercial editing in ways that are still
unappreciated.  Many people saw Powers of Ten with out ever knowing the
title and some of the films (like eratosthenes) were more utilized
than others.  The airport seating is not usually recognized as an Eames
chair, and there are quite a few tables that are Eames tables that
people rarely consider as Eames Designs.  Also, I think some people got
the giant house of cards without thinking of it as an Eames
toy--though this is not as common as some of the others.
  
inkwell.vue.147 : Eames Demetrios: An Eames Primer
permalink #91 of 135: Eames Demetrios (eamesdemetrios) Tue 30 Apr 02 23:07
    
Regarding Steve's point about the counter-culture: this is something I
have often wondered about too.  I know they fully appreciated the
Whole Earth Catalog, but also the importance of that image of Earth. 
They were close with Corita Kent and the sisters of Immaculate Heart.

Annette del Zoppo (who worked at the Office) was the sister of a
member of the band Sweetwater and she did the costumes  when they were
at Woodstock.  

And yet they seem to have been able to acknowledge to this world and
yet keep their eyes on their own work.  It goes back to 901's unique
ability to be an island, but not be one.
  
inkwell.vue.147 : Eames Demetrios: An Eames Primer
permalink #92 of 135: Eames Demetrios (eamesdemetrios) Tue 30 Apr 02 23:10
    
Regarding Mr Beeson's comment ofn Froebel, this came in an oralhistory
by Charles Eames and I think I gave it a bit of a quote in my book
which Mr. Beeson might enjoy because Charles did talk abit about his
early education.
  
inkwell.vue.147 : Eames Demetrios: An Eames Primer
permalink #93 of 135: Elaine Sweeney (sweeney) Wed 1 May 02 16:28
    
Going back to my experience on the Eames House tour, I was lucky
enough to time it with the Eames show at the LA County Museum.  In that
show was a large model of the house, (1/4" scale?) so I got to take in
the "pure" conceptual depiction of it before going over there.

What shocked me really when I saw the house in person was its size.  I
had always visualized it as having a loft-like openness throughout but
actually it is quite cozy in space though visually open.

The other thing was the site: the house is built into a hillside and
has an ocean view off the Santa Monica bluffs.  When the case-study
houses were originally built, the interaction between them must have
been quite interesting, as they were all within sightlines of one
another.  Now the hillside vegetation has apparently grown up quite a
bit, and some of the present owners of the houses have put up privacy
fences, so the individual houses are isolated.

The third thing was the amount of material and the evocativeness of
it: the binders and binders of photos and slides; the books in the
wall-high bookcases; the tabletop still with the props from shooting
_Toccato for Toy Trains_.

Of course the presence of the family and staff, all helpful and aware
throughout the day, answering questions and telling stories.  It was
truly worth the drive down from the SF area to catch the tour.


Something that I think is a struggle is how to preserve and
communicate, and further disseminate the experience and outputs of
people like Charles and Ray without ending up either soaking them in
gauzy amber or over-sanctifying them.  An example of the latter was
Frank Lloyd Wright, who seems to be communicated as a Grand Old Man,
which would have tickled his fancy no end but which is a cardboard
shadow of his complex personality.  Similarly I am bewildered by the
low-end products licensed by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, where
you have an illustration for a magazine cover showing up for sale as
men's ties, or stained-glass designs being reproduced as bookmarks or
Christmas ornaments.  It's pretty common that it's not even in the same
material much less scale or function.
With a lot of Charles and Ray's work being somewhat high-end design
products, I think its really commendable that the Eames Office has been
able to get things out with much lower pricepoints that don't cheapen
the original designs or misuse the messages: the VHS and DVD releases
of the films and even the flipbooks of the film shorts.  I'm sure it
must have taken quite a bit of thoughtfulness and persistance with
vendors/licensees to get that to happen that way.

RE: Robert's comments on the repressiveness of the '50s, I think a lot
of it is very selective filtering of what we'd like to remember or
what fits the present-day message on the period.  I was flipping
through something and encountered a reproduction of one of the
Container Corporation of America's "Great Ideas" ads, and it took me
back to waiting for my father to bring huge piles of magazines home
from work and going through them looking for that series.  It's
difficult to imagine an advertiser doing something like today, though I
*guess* Absolut is doing something similar, and the Apple "Think
Different" ads were a weak version of it.
  
inkwell.vue.147 : Eames Demetrios: An Eames Primer
permalink #94 of 135: (fom) Wed 1 May 02 16:38
    
Benetton has attempted something on that scale, I'd say.
  
inkwell.vue.147 : Eames Demetrios: An Eames Primer
permalink #95 of 135: Eames Demetrios (eamesdemetrios) Wed 1 May 02 23:30
    
I also think of the Alcoa Forecast Program for which the Eameses'
Solar Do-Nothing Machine was done, but also products like Marianne
Strengell's aluminum fabric.
  
inkwell.vue.147 : Eames Demetrios: An Eames Primer
permalink #96 of 135: Elaine Sweeney (sweeney) Thu 2 May 02 09:05
    
You mention those things and I go, "oh, yeah!" but they are certainly
*not* floating on the surface of my memory for the time.
  
inkwell.vue.147 : Eames Demetrios: An Eames Primer
permalink #97 of 135: (fom) Thu 2 May 02 09:22
    
The movie of the Do-Nothing Machine was a big favorite of mine as a child, 
but I didn't connect it to Alcoa.

Last night I saw Steve Cabella's wonderful film "Eames: The Hollywood 
Connection." Full house, much laughter at all the funny bits (and there 
were many). It was only 43 minutes long -- this was a rough cut -- and the 
final version is likely to be longer. It's amazing to see clips of all the 
various Eames-influenced movies, and also to realize how much influence 
the Eameses had on filmmaking.

After the show, Steve let on that he and Ruth, the film's editor, had put 
it together in 30 days. Which made me think "The best you can do in 30 
days is a kind of best you can do" -- it's really great.

He put out a general call for further discoveries of Eames references in 
Hollywood movies, so if anyone here knows of any, they should let him 
know. Some of the movies covered were: Executive Suite, The Moon Is Blue, 
The President's Analyst, The Spirit of Saint Louis, Mrs Miniver, The 
Fountainhead, Sabrina, and a whole bunch more whose names I can't think of 
right this instant. At least one Elvis movie, one with Doris Day, and a 
slew of William Holden-as-architect films.
  
inkwell.vue.147 : Eames Demetrios: An Eames Primer
permalink #98 of 135: Bob Rossney (rbr) Thu 2 May 02 11:15
    
Does the last shot of _Men in Black_ count as an Eames reference?  I would
hope so.

It's interesting to think of Benetton giving free rein to Tibor Kalman as
being analagous to IBM and the Eameses.
  
inkwell.vue.147 : Eames Demetrios: An Eames Primer
permalink #99 of 135: Eames Demetrios (eamesdemetrios) Thu 2 May 02 22:38
    
Yes, I think the end of Men in Black is a much wittier play on the
Powers of Ten film than the use in Contact.
  
inkwell.vue.147 : Eames Demetrios: An Eames Primer
permalink #100 of 135: Linda Castellani (castle) Sat 4 May 02 16:44
    

Let me step in belatedly to say thank you to Eames and to Bob for taking 
us such a tantalizing tour of the Eameses lives and their work.  The last 
two weeks have just sped by.

And thanks to <fom> who made it possible!

You are welcome to continue the conversation for as long as you like.
  

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