10 Inspiring Quotes from the Eames Family

In 1988, Charles Eames’s only daughter, Lucia, inherited the iconic Eames house in Pacific Palisades, California after the death of her stepmother, Ray. The house—along with Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and Mies van der Rohe’s Tugendhat House—is one of the world’s most significant modern residences. Built as part of The Case Study House Program, the home (and studio) has acquired near shrine-like status in the minds of architects and designers.
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 <a href="http://www.timstreet-porter.com/home.html">Tim Street-Po

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.

Today, Lucia Eames’s fourth child, Eames Demetrios, is director of the Eames Office, where Demetrios is devoted to preserving and extending the legacy and work of his grandparents, Charles and Ray. In addition to creating some of the most recognizable furniture designs of the 20th-century, the dynamic duo made more than 15 films and designed 30 exhibits for IBM in a relationship that began in 1953 and spanned three decades. In an outdoor conversation at the famous Eames house, Demetrios still considers it his mission to communicate his grandparents' visionary ideas to as wide an audience as possible by sharing  Powers of Ten, the classic educational film the couple created, and the resources of the Eames Office. However, what was most interesting was listening to Demetrois reflect on his life growing up with Charles and Ray as his grandparents.

1. “As beautiful as the objects are that Charles and Ray created, the ideas behind them are just as beautiful and just as important and relevant today.”

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 <a href="http://eamesfoundation.org/">the Eames Foundation</a>.

Goza mats and pillows are laid out for seating guests. The ocean can be seen beyond the corner window; it is now more obscured by trees. Photo courtesy the Eames Foundation.

2. As a grandchild, Eames observed, “it was more than a home; it was a laboratory of creative thinking.”

3. Demetrios told the stories of his grandparents with a gleam in his eye while he talked about how they would use the most thoughtful tool for everything they did, including something as simple as eating grapefruit. He also discussed the guest-host relationship, which speaks to clients and designers alike—“The role of the designer is basically that of a good host, anticipating the needs of the guest.”

4. Demetrios regards his grandparents as problem solvers at their core. “Charles and Ray approached every problem on a situation-by-situation basis and found and applied the best possible solution for it.”

5. Even though the two are considered mid-century modern masters, Demetrios says, “They never tried to force a specific design style on all the things they did.”

6. A favorite quote: “The connections, the connections, the connections,” Charles Eames once said. “It will in the end be these details that give the product its life.”

7. “Their work was always about finding smarter ways of doing things,” Demetrios said. “Charles and Ray believed that when you truly try to address the fundamental need of any situation, the best solution will come to the fore.”

eames time machine 4

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. Photo courtesy Tim Street-Porter.

8. When specifically discussing design, Demetrois says, “It was about appropriateness. And I think [Charles and Ray] always had a really good sense of that.”

9. While discussing values: “You could have a rich life without any money!”

10. Ultimately, good design is driven by principle. “If you always come from a pure place, good things are likely to happen.”

 

Check out our interview here and see if you can find a few quotes of your own.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...