We finally got the chance to see the Eames house in person and up close. It's been something we have been looking forward to for awhile. By watching the great documentaries like "The Architect and the Painter", and many other short films, we have developed a love of how as a couple Charles and Ray fed off of each other to create some of the most groundbreaking work during the euphoric modern times after the war.
Their love of design and their incredible focus on it for their entire lives is something we can only aspire to. They were constantly tinkering and trying out new things. And on top of it all, they had fun - some clever little move or just outright silliness with toys, or in Ray's case, some composition of artifacts from travels around the world.
The original house design was supposed to jut out via a cantilever into the meadow on the bluff overlooking the ocean. However, after picnicking in the meadow numerous times before building, they realized they didn't want to lose the meadow, so they saved it and tucked the house into the side of the hill. To me this was a great move, as the massive retaining wall stretching out the entire length of both the house and studio anchors the buildings. The structure is so light that this wall visually "grounds" everything. Covering the inside wall along the embankment with wood is a perfect final touch as it adds a great warmth to the interior spaces.
The simplicity of steel, glass, and infill panels is striking up close. And the size of the steel is so minimal that the structure begins to disappear.
One other feature that I hadn't paid much attention to is the separate studio. With the courtyard in between, it creates the perfect separation, as well as harmony, of work and life.
Sun control in some strategic locations on the facade is ingenious with the interior sliding "shutters".
The kitchen seemed almost to be more of an intentional afterthought, as they didn't do a lot of cooking. That contrasts so dramatically to today's typical life style where the kitchen is now the center of the house and should have the good views and visual access to the rest of the spaces. Their kitchen had a cramped feel and was tucked into a dark corner of the home.
The entry to the house was not distinct as it blends with the rest of the glazing . They did mark the colored tile over the main entry door with the only gold colored panel, but I think it is just too subtle to pick up on. Perhaps this entry was more obvious when the Eucalyptus trees were much smaller.
All in all, it was a treat to have the opportunity to see such an iconic space that has influenced modern architecture for many years now.
You can read more of the background on the project here:
The house was part of the Case Study project initiated by the Arts and Architecture magazine. Read more about the program here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Case_Study_Houses