Eames House

 Photographs courtesy of David S. Ferdig photography. Copyright 2011.
In yesterday’s LA times there were several articles(one, two, three) about the temporary relocation/recreation of the Eames Pacific Palisades house.  The living room will live at LACMA for the next six months as part of a large city-wide exhibition called “Living in a Modern Way: California Design 1930-1965”.

I’m really looking forward to seeing the exhibition and I’m very interested to see the living room…again.  In 2006 Dave was asked to shoot pictures of Eames Demetrios, the grandson of Ray and Charles, for Desert Living Magazine.  I got to go along as his photo assistant one day… the day he went to the Eames house in the Palisades.  I knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity but the magnitude of it all didn’t hit me until I read the articles yesterday.  I’ve actually walked in that very living room! The real living room! 

Two things I love to do: 1: get to visit someone’s house and 2: get to see their bedroom. I think both reveal a whole lot about who they are.  It’s almost like getting a peek inside the person’s thought process. In fact, I’d consider it better than a psychological analysis.  So, you can imagine how amazing it was for me to stand in Ray and Charles Eames’ house. Two design icons of our time! (Just the living room and office. Not the bedroom!)

I must say at first I was a bit surprised. I expected their home to be more of the stereotypical Modern movement.  I’ve seen so many Julius Shulman photographs of the 1950’s.  I think I expected the “creators” of the look to exemplify it beyond anything else I had seen.  
Instead, the house had the foundation or base coat of the Modern movement with accents of a life well-traveled, well-lived and well-embraced. You could see what inspired Ray and Charles.  And there was no doubt they were artist.  The place felt organic and evolved much the same as an artist develops his/her work.  

  Photographs courtesy of David S. Ferdig photography. Copyright 2011.
I don’t know how to say this without sounding pompous. What surprised me the most was that their living room had sort of the same essence of our apartment.  Not that I think Dave and I are Charles and Ray but there were some similarities in the way our places looked.  It really surprised me.  I didn’t think we had absolutely anything in common with a couple as accomplished as them.
At the time we were living on the 22nd floor on the west-side.  Our building was built in the 1950’s. It had the definite structure of the era, with floor to ceiling windows.  Our living room was filled with books and pieces of our travels from all over the world.  Each piece had a memory of a place and time.  We liked to keep the things that inspired us in obvious places throughout the house. Because we had floor to ceiling windows I had plants in pots that “mingled” from the outdoor balcony into the interior.  The Eames had all the same types of things. The big difference, of course, was that the Eames have amazing furniture.  While Dave and I only had select good accent pieces, they have a house full of amazing pieces. 
I guess in a way it was inspiring to have even a single thread of commonality with them.  I think it’s something any artist will find when they see the exhibition.  Reading the articles yesterday reminded me that I need to remain true to the essence our our family through the design of this house.  It doesn’t matter that we live in a Mid Century Modern home and that some people expect it to look a certain way.  The home can have the structure of the era but the essence of the home needs to remain Dave’s and mine. 

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