Eames Demetrios at TED2007

Eames Demetrios at TED2007

By Tiffany Chu
This week, TED released "The design genius of Charles + Ray Eames," a talk given by Eames Demetrios, the grandson of the famous husband-and-wife team. Given at TED2007, Demetrios honors Charles's 100th birthday and presents rarely seen snapshots and footage, sharing the lasting spirit of their design ideology.

As with any TED talk, It is no small task to condense a lifetime's worth of achievement (in this case, two lifetimes) into an 18-minute overview. As expected, images of iconic chairs are abundant, but so are fresh clips from Eames' not-so-famous movies -- offering some mystic insight into their fascinating connection between film and design.

From the perspective of an architecture student, what struck me most was the passion that Demetrios portrays for the iterative process of both his work and that of his grandparents. "They were always modeling stuff, they were always trying stuff out...' That is the type of thing that young designers want to hear -- that there will be hundreds of mistakes (also known as 'prototypes'), that each model you build is an essential step, and that it's far from a linear process. It's inspiring to know that the best view design as not a professional skill, but a life skill, honed through trial and error.

Some concepts presented by Demetrios may have been a bit on the philosophically over-hashed side for those in the field ('design is not the same as style,' the importance of 'the human connection'), marginally sounding like a professor lecturing to his first-year studio. But the playfulness of his grandparents' work definitely shines through, with snapshots from their toy films, their seven-screen experiments, and banana leaf audio clip. As a thumbnail synopsis of the remarkable legacy of Charles and Ray, it does what every TED talk should do -- be an inspiration for further learning.


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