You’ve heard a lot about the Herman Miller Collection, and may have seen the remarkable photographs included in its website, catalog, and brochures. If you’ve looked closely enough, you may have even noticed that many images of the line’s Eames offerings are set in a familiar place: the Eames House in Pacific Palisades, California.
Last spring, while the original contents of Charles and Ray Eameses’ living room were on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Herman Miller Collection team had the rare opportunity to hold a photo shoot in the husband-and-wife team’s landmark home. The capper? They were also invited to explore Ray’s extensive, well-curated personal collection of objects to use as props. In celebration of Ray’s upcoming 100th birthday, we asked Jennie Maneri, Art Director, Collection and Retail, to walk us through a few of the shots and explain how the details Ray was know for helped bring the Collection to life.
“We knew going into the project that many of the photos would draw from Charles and Ray’s own photos — not shot for shot, but as inspiration. This image [above] is a re-imagining of a picture they’d taken [below] using all the same furniture pieces in the same location, except their lounge and ottoman had black leather and the old Rosewood shell. We wanted to do the updated version in white ash and pearl MCL leather. We included one of Ray’s baskets and her jade plant, which we brought in from the outside. This photo really moved me, as I felt that it was the shot that shows what the Collection is all about: a lived-in quality, a feeling of warmth, beautiful architecture, timeless design.” Pictured above: Eames Lounge and Ottoman, White Ash and Eames Sofa Compact
“We, of course, wanted to shoot the Ray-inspired Select Eames LTR in the home. The bowls on the tables are hers, as is the unique cat sculpture sitting on top of the grouped tables.” Pictured above: Select Eames Wire Base Low Tables and Eames Molded Plywood Chairs
“The inspiration for this shot was ‘Ray getting ready for a party.’ We used her china, her champagne glasses, and some amazing gold flatware. We even went into her garden and picked Aster flowers for her bud jar.” Pictured above: Eames Table and Eames Molded Plywood Dining Chairs
“We shot this photo in the Eames Studio, which is adjacent to the house. The whale sculpture was hers. According to old photos, it was once hanging in the house. It had also been in the original Herman Miller showroom in Los Angeles, which Ray and Charles had designed and styled. We found Ray’s rug folded into a tiny cube within a big stack of textiles. We didn’t even know it was a rug until we opened it up. There were a lot of wonderful surprises like that throughout the day of the shoot.” Pictured above: Eames Molded Plastic Armchair and Eames Storage Unit
“This shot is not in the Collection catalog, but everything here is Ray’s: the plants, the decorative sculptures, the saucers (which were almost like little dessert bowls on pedestals). And then there are pieces from her collections of bowls and salt-and-pepper shakers. . . . There was so much to choose from. Ray didn’t just have one salt bowl; she’d have 40 salt bowls, all different. She’d have 50 different candlesticks and all kinds of plates and bowls. There were cabinets of vases. Drawers of linens. We saw artifacts from different cultures — earthenware, African baskets. But they’d all still be a curated collection. And we found inspiration in the way she could could take very-different objects — a sea pod, a bowl, fresh flowers — and turn that combination into sculpture. Ray made sure her toolbox was abundant, but how she put it together — that’s where the art came from.” Pictured above: Eames Table Outdoor and Eames Molded Plastic Side Chairs
See more of the Collection at hermanmiller.com/collection.
Photos: Francois Dischinger for Herman Miller