I recently had the good fortune to visit the Eames House in Pacific Palisades, California. As a young designer influenced by the Eameses, the visit left me with a new perspective. While Charles and Ray were legendary designers, they were also husband and wife, grandparents, and friends, who spent years turning the house into a comforting, familiar place. It is the Eames home more than it is the Eames House.
While the home has been preserved, nothing has been restored. It is just as Charles and Ray intended. It feels warm, inviting and has the patina of use: the paint is chipped, the dinner bell is rusty, and the leather on the lounge chair and ottoman is cracked from sitting. Their collections are on display everywhere. It couldn’t feel more different than the sleek, museum-like interiors that we see their furniture featured in today.
Throughout, there are examples of Eames design–but not the ones you and I know. A patio table built from the base of their famous ottoman sits outside, probably a little rustier than when they used it; a walnut stool became a Lazy Susan holding a TV; and a plant is perched on top of an extra, extra tall modified table base. They simply used what they had to make what they needed.
Outside, old trucks and other toys litter the yard and in the corner are remains of a wooden fort built for the grandchildren.
Visiting the home of Charles and Ray Eames and glimpsing into their life together transformed two design icons into people, who, in many ways, were just like you and me.