Design, What's Up
April 17, 2012
If numbers come to mind when you hear the word “mathematics,” you’re not alone. That was the misconception that Charles and Ray Eames sought to undo with their groundbreaking 1961 exhibit designed for IBM: Mathematica: a World of Numbers …and Beyond.
The truth, Charles and Ray realized, is that numbers only represent one percent of the world of mathematics. From a pinball demonstration of celestial movement to a 1,000-year timeline of mathematical discoveries and influential events, Charles, Ray, and the entire Eames Office worked hard to bring mathematics to life without numbers.
March 22, 2010
A wonderful, photo-filled coffee table book, Eames Design; The Work of the Office of Charles and Ray Eames, includes a 1969 Q & A session with Charles Eames and Madame L’Amic of the Musée des Arts Decoratifs, in conjunction with a design exhibit at the Louvre.
Here are a few choice tidbits from that session (which, by the way, was later used as the audio track for a film the Eames Office made on the design process called, “Design Q&A”).
Q: What is your definition of design?
A: A plan for arranging elements in such a way as to best accomplish a particular purpose.
Q: What are the boundaries of design?
A: What are the boundaries of problems?
Q: Does the creation of design admit constraint?
A: Design depends largely on constraints.
Q: What constraints?
A: The sum of all constraints. Here is one of the few effective keys to the design problem: the ability of the designer to recognize as many of the constraints as possible (and) his willingness and enthusiasm for working within these constraints—the constraints of price, size, strength, balance, surface, time, etc.; each problem has its own peculiar list.
Q: To whom does design address itself: to the greatest number (the masses)? The specialists…the enlightened amateur…a privileged social class?
A: To the need.
Eames also helped design Herman Miller’s Los Angeles Showroom. Check out the vintage photos Eames Office shared with us to create a slideshow on Discover.
Design, Herman Miller Journal
February 15, 2010
Last summer, Herman Miller opened a new Los Angeles showroom near Culver City—with dramatic bowstring wood trusses, curved walls, and extensive detail—marking our presence in the area for 60 years. This year, the building was awarded LEED CI Platinum certification—the first of its kind in Los Angeles.
Rewind six decades. Have you ever wondered what the first showroom looked like?
Thanks to the Eames Office, we’re able to share vintage photos of the “Herman Miller Furniture Company Showroom,” opened in 1949 at 8806 Beverly Boulevard.
Designed by Charles Eames, the showroom was inspired by Case Study House #8 (also known as the Eames House), which was part of the Case Study House Program. Eames built upon what he learned from the Case Study houses to minimize the building’s interior connections and create a backdrop for the furniture–much of which was designed by the Eames Office.
The showroom’s exterior was similar to the Eames House, with its industrial steel frame and patterned glass panels. Skylights and windows let in natural light.
The Eameses always used an eclectic mix of objects in their showroom–from toys, plants, and folk art to found items in dime stores and specialty shops. It was the perfect setting for product introduction parties, as well as movie nights featuring Eames films.
For more information about the first Herman Miller Los Angeles showroom, check out the book Eames Design by Ray Eames and Marilyn & John Neuhart.
February 4, 2010
A compact little book called 100 Quotes by Charles Eames is full of insights from the designer that apply not only to life behind the drawing board, but beyond it as well. Some examples:
#2: Eventually everything connects—people, ideas, objects…the quality of the connections is the key to quality per se.”
#20: “We’ve always been aware of not…attempting to solve the problem of how people should sit, but rather accepting the way people do sit …and operating within that framework.”
#40: “We worked very hard at…enjoying ourselves. We didn’t let anything interfere with what we were doing—our hard work. That in itself was a great pleasure.”
#53: “The role of the designer is that of a very good, thoughtful host anticipating the needs of his guests.”
#69: “Among the great and elegant design exceptions is a toy produced this year that has swept the country. What is it? A small bouncing ball—the Superball.”
#91: “Art resides in the quality of doing; process is not magic.”
Each quote is in seven languages: English, Complex Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, Brazilian, Portuguese, and Spanish. The book, published by Eames Office, includes some of Eames’ favorite quotes from others, too. Might make a nice gift for yourself or someone you know who’s an Eames’ devotee.