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The iconic mid-century modernist Eames House turns 70

Iconic industrial designers Charles and Ray Eames left an astonishing legacy behind. Aside from their stylishly functional furniture, their mid-century modernist home – at once residence and studio – comes under the spotlight this year as it celebrates its 70th anniversary.

It was in this house that some of the designers’ best-loved furniture was created, with a number of items available to South African buyers through local distributor All Office stocks, courtesy of the Herman Miller Collection. Classics like their elegant ottoman chair and stylish lounge chair continue to grace local homes, and fans can visit the Eames House in the Pacific Palisades, California, to see where it all began.

This famed property, built on a eucalyptus grove on a 1.4-acre plot, was finally granted National Landmark status in 2007. It attracts a large number of visitors – house walkthroughs are arranged by the Eames Foundation. The house started life as Case Study House No. 8 – Charles and Ray Eames designed it as part of a programme envisioned by Arts & Architecture magazine. The idea was to create a structure that expressed modern living using materials and techniques arising from the Second World War.

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In a 1945 design brief, Charles wrote that the house “in its free relation to the ground, the trees, the sea – with constant proximity to the whole vast order of nature – acts as reorientor and ‘shock-absorber’ and should provide the needed relaxations from the daily complications arising within problems.”

The geometric steel-framed structure, which blends functionalism and natural beauty in a seamless and striking manner, is one of the world’s most cherished houses. The Eames Foundation and the Getty Conservation Institute have rolled out the Getty Conversation Management Plan for the property – a 250-year project to ensure the sustainability of this design landmark. This year, more than 200 eucalyptus trees were harvested for maintenance purposes, and a limited edition of the class Eames Low Table Rod (LTR) table is being released with solid-wood table tops made from two of these trees. According to the management plan, eucalyptus can be pruned or felled as needed to be replaced with seedlings.

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According to Herman Miller and Vitra, “[Charles and Ray Eames] would have appreciated this inventive use of the trees the surround their home. They valued them so much that they designed the site of the Eamest House with the trees’ protection in mind, and even finished their living room wall in eucalyptus wood.”

  • The public can visit the grounds or house by appointment only.
  • All Office stocks the following classic Eames items: the Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman Chairs; Aluminium, Soft Pad, Executive, Plywood, Plastic and Wire Chairs; Eames Walnut Stools; the Eames Plywood Table; and the playful Hang-It-All coat rack. Visit alloffice.co.za for more information.