January 9, 2012
Barry Sonnenfeld, director and Digital Man blogger, sits astride a wheeled saddle to scurry around film sets. Forget the clichéd canvas director’s chair, he cherishes his makeshift saddle-on-wheels, a creation of the Men in Black 2 crew that’s since been modified with “drawers for scripts, water, and prescription medication” for his sciatica.
Where he’s all about moving on the set, Billy Wilder, a director from an earlier generation who did films such as Sunset Boulevard and Some Like It Hot, opted for catnaps on set. In 1955, while filming The Spirit of St. Louis, he started taking naps on a narrow plank held up by sawhorses. Wilder later told his friends Charles and Ray Eames he needed something similar—but a bit more comfortable—for his office.
They came up with a slender, armless chaise with a built-in wakeup call. It required Wilder to lie on his back with his arms folded over his chest. Once he dozed off, his arms relaxed, dropped to his side, and gently awakened him. We began making the chaise in 1968, and it’s been in the line ever since.
We’ve added other pieces in the ensuing years. And Sonnenfeld puts three of them through their paces in his search for the right furniture for working in the editing room: the Embody and Aeron chairs and the Envelop desk. Get his read on them, and then check them out for yourself.
Photo: Barry Sonnenfeld is an Emmy-winning television director and the director of Get Shorty and the upcoming Men in Black 3.
January 5, 2012
When Charles and Ray Eames were asked to produce a film for the American National Exhibition in Moscow in 1959, they agreed, but on the condition that the film would not be reviewed before the show.
Government officials who had sanctioned the film were clueless on the progress—even the subject—of the film, as documented in Eames: The Architect and the Painter. During regular check-ins, a representative would sit down for a showing, the reel would start, and then shortly thereafter go blank. “Well that’s all we have so far,” was the comment from the Eames Office team. “Oh, okay, looks good I guess,” was the typical response from the minder. And so it went, all the way to opening day.
Arriving in Moscow the night before the scheduled opening, film in hand, Charles and Ray were ready to premiere their Glimpses of the U.S.A. Displayed on seven screens, each 20 feet high by 30 feet wide, their film stole the show. Time magazine called it “the smash hit of the Fair.”
But how does such a film end? It was George Nelson, exhibition design director, who suggested the Eameses finish “with love,” and they did: a single shot of forget-me-nots, translated literally in English and Russian.
December 28, 2011
The meaning of Magis—”more than”—captures the Italian company’s approach to design and manufacturing. “We add to Herman Miller because we are complementare, complementary,” explains Alberto Perazza, Co-Managing Director of Magis. “Even a world apart, we do the business of design in similar ways. Both companies have many and continuing collaborations with the greatest world designers.”
Much like Herman Miller, Magis employs innovative processes that maximize performance, while minimizing volume of material, energy use, and environmental impact.
The names of Grcic, Morrison, and Fukasawa join the ranks of Eames, Nelson, and Stumpf, as Herman Miller is now the exclusive distributor of Magis products in the U.S. and Canada.
Learn more about Magis designers.
Check out the HermanMiller Store for more details.
September 12, 2011
Among the friends to take part in the tea cermony hosted by the Eameses were sculptor Isamu Noguchi (far left) and actor Charlie Chaplin (fifth from the left).
Charles and Ray Eames felt, “The role of the designer is that of a very good, thoughtful host, all of whose energy goes into trying to anticipate the needs of his guests.” When those needs were not met, the Eameses, as hosts, created a solution.
In 1950, Charles and Ray invited friends, including actor Charlie Chaplin and sculptor Isamu Noguchi, to their Pacific Palisades home for a bit of Japanese culture in California—a traditional tea ceremony. For each guest, the Eames created a small wire table. Just 10 inches tall, the table provided an individualized setting for each guest as they kneeled together for an ancient Japanese custom.
That tiny table is the Eames wire based table, or LTR, a design that is still anticipating needs of guests today.
To learn more about the Eames’ philosophy designing for needs, visit Eames Designs: The Guest Host Relationship. The exhibit is presented by Architecture and Design Museum, Los Angeles and opens October 1, 2011.
Design, What's Up
October 5, 2010
Cerentha Harris, editor of our sister blog Lifework, reports on the upcoming celebration for the famous film created by Charles and Ray Eames.
Herman Miller has a long and rich history with designers Charles and Ray Eames. Back in 1977, the Eameses created a short film called “Powers of Ten.” As the Eames Office reminds us, “It still has the capacity to expand the way we think and view our world.”
Coming up is a particularly important anniversary of the film: October 10, 2010. This year, part of the celebration will include the online streaming of “Powers of Ten.” There also will be an exhibition at the Eames Office in Santa Monica, California, that explores the idea of scale that is so central to the film.