The World of Charles and Ray Eames

Thursday, 08.09.2016

The exhibition  at the Barbican, London

The exhibition at the Barbican, London

My family and I went to see the exhibition ‘The World of Charles and Ray Eames’ (21 October 2015 – 14 February 2016) at the Barbican in London; see www.barbican.org.uk/artgallery/event-detail.asp?ID=18398

It was rather fun since my daughters Anya (age 9) and Lyra (age 7) were there too and they very much enjoyed all the colourful shapes of the exhibits.

Anya and Lyra looking at the model of 'the Revell Toy House' of 1969 (the toy never went  into production)

Anya and Lyra looking at the model of ‘the Revell Toy House’ of 1969 (the toy never went into production)

Prior to seeing the exhibition, I only knew of the classic Eames’ designs for such furniture as the ‘Lounge Chair und Ottoman’ of 1956 and the ‘Hang It All Coat Rack’ of 1953 of which I own an example bought from the VITRA company.

'Hang It All Coat Rack' of 1953

‘Hang It All Coat Rack’ of 1953

Coming from the architectural angle my attention was immediately drawn to the architectural models that were on display. The main model was of the Eames house which was part of a larger project known as the ‘Case Study Houses’ programme that numerous architects in Los Angeles participated in. This house was known as CSH No. 8 and was built in the Pacific Palisades from 1945-49.

Model of the Eames House built between 1945-49 (living space and workshop)

Model of the Eames House built between 1945-49 (living space and workshop)

Model of the Eames House built between 1945-49 (living space)

Model of the Eames House built between 1945-49 (living space)

The first design was a collaboration between Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen. However during the development Eames was joined by his wife Ray and together they optimised the interior. The houses consists of two seperate rectangles divided into a ground and first floor. One rectangle functioned as a living space, the other as a workshop. The building consists of pre-fabricated industrial materials such as steel, glass, asbestos and modular cemesto plates, all of which, could be assembled on site.

Model of the Eames House built between 1945-49 (living space)

Model of the Eames House built between 1945-49 (living space)

Model of the Eames House built between 1945-49 (workshop)

Model of the Eames House built between 1945-49 (workshop)

The very hard edged right angles of the space, the Eames’ softenend with an interplay of colour and material that literally breathed life into the interior and exterior of the building. Although the house was a prototype for the CSH project, the Eames lived and worked in it from 1949 until their deaths. The co- existence of Life and Work under one roof was exactly the philosophy of these two famous designers.