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Eames Time Machine

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To stand in the empty living room of Charles and Ray Eames’ Case Study House No. 8 in Pacific Palisades is to experience pure contemplation of the space. While its furnishings, some undergoing their own conservation, languish within LACMA’s Living in a Modern Way exhibition, the room is receiving a faithful restoration under the tutelage of the Eames Foundation. To celebrate and to help support this transformation, on Saturday, October 15, from 4–6 p.m., the Foundation is hosting Time Machine, a fundraiser for Foundation members and non-members alike ($200 and $250, respectively). Time Machine kicks off “Indoor Ecologies: the Evolution of the Eames House Living Room,” which will progress through the end of April, at which time the living room will be back in its entirety. With the exception of attending events such as this one, as per usual, visitors will be only able to view the house from the outside, so this is a rare opportunity to be inside the room. “We are inviting people to see the living room empty, because that’s how it looked when Charles and Ray moved in,” says Foundation chairman Eames Demetrios, who adds that he and other family members, as well as former Eames collaborators, will be among the guests. “To be in that space, in this moment of all this potential, is pretty powerful.”

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  Ray Eames in the Eames House living room, Christmas 1949. The couple moved in on Christmas Eve with very little and furnished the home slowly over the ensuing decades. Photo courtesy the Eames Foundation.
    Ray Eames in the Eames House living room, Christmas 1949. The couple moved in on Christmas Eve with very little and furnished the home slowly over the ensuing decades. Photo courtesy the Eames Foundation.
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  The living room in early 1950, with a circa 1944 three-legged molded-plywood side chair (the couple made one with two legs in the front and one in back, and vice versa). Early on, the pair often laid down Japanese goza mats on the concrete floor, before they had the tile put in. Photo courtesy the Eames Foundation.
    The living room in early 1950, with a circa 1944 three-legged molded-plywood side chair (the couple made one with two legs in the front and one in back, and vice versa). Early on, the pair often laid down Japanese goza mats on the concrete floor, before they had the tile put in. Photo courtesy the Eames Foundation.
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  Another shot from 1950 shows more goza mats and pillows for seating guests. The ocean can be seen beyond the corner window; it is now more obscured by trees. Photo courtesy the Eames Foundation.
    Another shot from 1950 shows more goza mats and pillows for seating guests. The ocean can be seen beyond the corner window; it is now more obscured by trees. Photo courtesy the Eames Foundation.
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  The living room as it is best known, shot in 1994. The light from the window illuminates the tumbleweed the couple picked up on their honeymoon drive from Chicago to Los Angeles; due to its fragility it was the only item not to have been moved to the LACMA exhibition. Photo courtesy Tim Street-Porter.
    The living room as it is best known, shot in 1994. The light from the window illuminates the tumbleweed the couple picked up on their honeymoon drive from Chicago to Los Angeles; due to its fragility it was the only item not to have been moved to the LACMA exhibition. Photo courtesy Tim Street-Porter.
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  The living room in 1994 from the outside looking in, the angle from which most visitors view the space. Ray bordered the house with potted plants, which remain outside today. Photo courtesy Tim Street-Porter.
    The living room in 1994 from the outside looking in, the angle from which most visitors view the space. Ray bordered the house with potted plants, which remain outside today. Photo courtesy Tim Street-Porter.
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  The Eames living room at present. “This is among the first of a whole group of modern houses that will need to be taken care of,” says Demetrios. “Our mantra is, we’re creating a 250 year plan for the house—we’re trying to write the book you would need in 250 years if you were in charge of the house.”
Photo courtesy the Eames Foundation; © 2011 Eames Demetrios.
    The Eames living room at present. “This is among the first of a whole group of modern houses that will need to be taken care of,” says Demetrios. “Our mantra is, we’re creating a 250 year plan for the house—we’re trying to write the book you would need in 250 years if you were in charge of the house.” Photo courtesy the Eames Foundation; © 2011 Eames Demetrios.
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  The room appears more diminutive without its furnishings. Both the concrete subfloor and the beech walls are being examined for any damage and restoration needs, but thus far they have been determined to be in a solid state. Photo courtesy the Eames Foundation; © 2011 Eames Demetrios.
    The room appears more diminutive without its furnishings. Both the concrete subfloor and the beech walls are being examined for any damage and restoration needs, but thus far they have been determined to be in a solid state. Photo courtesy the Eames Foundation; © 2011 Eames Demetrios.
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  This corner is typically occupied by the large bookcase that runs along the main wall. Left behind by the old white tile, which was damaged and made of a vinyl infused with asbestos, are perfect 8-by-8-inch squares on the concrete subfloor. Photo courtesy the Eames Foundation; © 2011 Eames Demetrios.
    This corner is typically occupied by the large bookcase that runs along the main wall. Left behind by the old white tile, which was damaged and made of a vinyl infused with asbestos, are perfect 8-by-8-inch squares on the concrete subfloor. Photo courtesy the Eames Foundation; © 2011 Eames Demetrios.
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  “The markings are important to our consultants—they are ways of dividing up the space as we figure out exactly how to proceed,” says Demetrios, who points out that the first step will be to gently clean the concrete. The Foundation is working on the restoration with architectural firm Escher GuneWardena, who restored John Lautner’s Chemosphere House. “The architects are erring on the side of preserving the integrity of the structure.” Photo courtesy the Eames Foundation; © 2011 Eames Demetrios.
    “The markings are important to our consultants—they are ways of dividing up the space as we figure out exactly how to proceed,” says Demetrios, who points out that the first step will be to gently clean the concrete. The Foundation is working on the restoration with architectural firm Escher GuneWardena, who restored John Lautner’s Chemosphere House. “The architects are erring on the side of preserving the integrity of the structure.” Photo courtesy the Eames Foundation; © 2011 Eames Demetrios.
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  “Certain things are best to do when living room is out,” says Demetrios. “The floor, the windows, the built-ins—we must fully understand what’s happening. And we need to take a close look at the long-term impact from the ocean.” At left are built-in drawers and cabinets near the corner banquette beneath the bedroom. Photo courtesy the Eames Foundation; © 2011 Eames Demetrios.
    “Certain things are best to do when living room is out,” says Demetrios. “The floor, the windows, the built-ins—we must fully understand what’s happening. And we need to take a close look at the long-term impact from the ocean.” At left are built-in drawers and cabinets near the corner banquette beneath the bedroom. Photo courtesy the Eames Foundation; © 2011 Eames Demetrios.
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  “Just as in Japan’s old teahouses, after 200 years of simply putting a cup in the same place, there’s very subtle wear that develops,” says Demetrios. “This house has that same feeling.” At right one can make out a dark square where the couple’s Franz Kline painting hung for decades. “Preserving architecture is important because it is a three-dimensional experience,” he adds. “All the photos in the world are not a substitute for being here.” Photo courtesy the Eames Foundation; © 2011 Eames Demetrios.
    “Just as in Japan’s old teahouses, after 200 years of simply putting a cup in the same place, there’s very subtle wear that develops,” says Demetrios. “This house has that same feeling.” At right one can make out a dark square where the couple’s Franz Kline painting hung for decades. “Preserving architecture is important because it is a three-dimensional experience,” he adds. “All the photos in the world are not a substitute for being here.” Photo courtesy the Eames Foundation; © 2011 Eames Demetrios.

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