Taking a tour of one of the world's most famous houses is both surreal and surprising and one of the best ways to spend a warm summer afternoon in LA. So much has been written about the Eames House by the American designers Charles and Ray Eames – both online and off – films have been made, photographs taken and exhibitions held. It's a very well loved house by two very well loved designers. Sitting high above Santa Monica beach in Pacific Palisades, the house was an experiment in 'off-the-shelf' components selected from a steel fabricator's catalogue, and also part of a larger program of case study homes conceived by architecture editor John Entenza (Arts & Architecture magazine) and built in California during the 1950s and 60s.
Visiting the Eames House for the first time feels strangely familiar. Maybe it's all the images pored over in books and magazines or the Australian connection; gum trees define the site and were the starting point for the design by Charles and Ray which followed the first sketch by Charles and Eero Saarinen. Or maybe it's the scale and the details and the interior that's brimming with objects designed by the pair and also collected over time and travels during a life thoroughly lived. Stories and objects are intertwined here too; a dinner shared with Isamu Noguchi, a hand carved tiger collected in India, rugs from Mexico, books, the famous Eames House Bird, Hopi kachina dolls, shells and the painting by Rothco that was presented to Ray as a thank you after one of their famous parties. Ray and Charles are still very present, their ideas so relevant today and maybe even more so.
Of all the twenty-five Case Study Houses built, the Eames house is probably the real success story both as a design statement and a functional home. Testament to this, the house remained the home and studio of Charles and Ray until the death of Ray in 1988. To celebrate 5 years living in the house, the two made the film 'House' in 1954 with some epic music by Elmer Bernstein. It's just as if you are visiting today.