Lowcountry Modern

Iconic Building of the Month | December 2016 | Eames House

 Eames House, Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, CA, 1949.
 
 
Charles and Ray Eames were two influential designers of the 20th century, having designed several iconic pieces of furniture. They also produced films (the most famous is Powers of Ten), designed toys and games (House of Cards), and even designed multimedia installations.
 
Their house and studio, also known as Case Study House No. 8, are as influential in architecture as their chairs are in the field of furniture design. The building demonstrates how modern construction can be colorful, creative, and live-able.
 
Charles Eames described the house as unselfconscious. It was designed specifically to meet their needs, universal needs that we all share as humans. They believed in the honest use of materials and straightforward connections. The details were the product.
 
 
By nestling the house into the hillside, they intended for the house to serve as a re-orientor toward nature. The scent, the sound of birds, the shadow of the trees against the structure whether inside or out, the openness of the site—all the elements join seamlessly. Besides wanting a home that would make no demands for itself, the couple intended that the home would serve as a background for “life in work,” with nature as a “shock absorber.”
 
The house consists of two glass and steel rectangular boxes. One is the residence, the other, a working studio. The building is aligned along a central axis with a court on the ocean side of the house and a court between the two structures. At 17 feet tall, each has a mezzanine balcony overlooking a large central room.
 

The Eames used color as a strategic tool in their house just as they did in their other work, combining the transparency and translucency of the glass with painted colors and wood finishes. The facades are black-painted grids, with different-sized inserts of glass (clear, translucent, or wired), painted and unfinished cemestos panels, painted stucco, painted and natural aluminum, and specially-treated panels.Much of the homes materials are off-the-shelf components, or the new plywood and plastic materials that the Eameses developed in their furniture designs. 

 
The end result? As one visitor exclaimed in the earliest days of its building, “Oh Mr. Eames, after seeing your home, I’ll never think of Modern as cold again!”
 
The Eames House, along with the whole of their efforts, represents a couple’s approach to life and work, where the iterative process that leads to meeting the need for direct experience, the relation with nature, the importance of details, and the life in work and the work in life.

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