Celebrating 70 Years Posted December 22, 2019 by Kelsey Rose Williams

Charles and Ray took delight in holidays and celebrations, which made December 24th a fitting date to move into the home that they designed for the Case Study Program.

This Christmas Eve will be the 70th anniversary of the momentous occasion in which the Eameses began their lifelong presence in the Eames House.

The Eames House today operates as a non-profit house museum and reflects the livelihood of Charles and Ray’s occupancy. The paint on the closet doors is continuously cracking (in a manner Ray marveled over), and the rubber tile in the kitchen still acts as a barrier between the concrete slab foundation and the glides of Eames chair legs. The refrigerator is humming, and each object is nestled in the spot last configured by Ray in the late ‘80s. When the public visits the home, each person can peer into the windows and doorways into this modern, maximalist, Eamesian dream.

Challenges arise when caring for a home of this age—especially considering the ocean’s very close proximity. When the Eames family actively decided to convert the private residence into a historic house museum after Charles and Ray’s passing, two options for presentation existed. Most conservationists urged for the home to be hermetically sealed; nobody would be allowed to enter and the house would require extensive climate controlling. Historically, the Eames House functioned as a space for fluid indoor-outdoor use, so this first option didn’t seem to keep the spirit of the house alive. The second option was to allow for the repeated opening and closing of doors and windows, but this meant other challenges would present themselves. The accumulation of debris and the lack of a proper interior climate would likely erode the furniture and objects at a faster rate. The Eames Foundation staff implemented procedures and cleaning methods to solve these problems so that the experience of the Eames House’s interior spaces are as true to Charles and Ray’s experience as possible. 

The Eames Foundation is also fortunate to have formed a partnership with the Getty Conservation Institute’s Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative to help with the home’s ambitious 250 Year Project. This conservation project’s goal is to keep the Eames House, the site, and the delicate collections intact for 250 years into the future. The intention is to extend the lifespan of the preexisting materials and thoughtfully replace failing parts with ones that “work better,” just as Charles and Ray hoped to do themselves. 

Charles and Ray’s livelihood revolved around the idea of improving the lives of the masses through design. Keeping the Eames House intact allows more people to witness a primary source of Charles and Ray’s philosophies. We’ve been fortunate to have this indirect design guidance from the Eameses far past their lifetimes—and, hopefully, their principles will be extended into the home and building designs of the future.

Happy 70th birthday to the Eames House!

The Eames Office is a proud sponsor of The Eames Foundation. If you want to help preserve the Eames House for future generations, please consider donating to the 250 Year Project or becoming an Eames Foundation member.