Eames House Conservation Management Plan Posted April 10, 2019 by Kelsey Rose Williams
The Eames House’s Conservation Management Plan (CMP) launched today after years of crucial, detail-oriented studies driven by the Getty Conservation Institute’s Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative and the Eames Foundation staff.
We asked Lucia Dewey Atwood, director of the Eames Foundation’s 250 Year Project and granddaughter of Charles and Ray, to introduce us to the Conservation Management Plan:
We are honoring years of collaboration between the Eames Foundation and the Getty Conservation Institute. During this time, we have focused on deeply understanding the entire site of the Eames House, including its structure, landscape, contents, as well as the spirit that makes it a home—Charles and Ray’s home for nearly 30 and 40 years, respectively. Our explorations utilized the Eameses’ approach to design: a deep understanding of the need, an approach they applied to their entire body of work—from furniture and industrial design to films, exhibitions, and architecture.
In 1958, Charles and Ray wrote in their India Report:
One should be prepared to follow an investigation with a restudy of the problem, to look upon detailed problems as if they were being attacked for the first time. . . .It will be necessary to bring together all the disciplines which can restate the questions of familiar problems in a fresh clear way.
Charles and Ray built the Eames House in 1949, and so we celebrate its 70th anniversary this year. At 70 years old, the House requires conservation. Successfully carrying out such work is only possible if we continue to move through the space as though Charles and Ray are still living there, with windows and curtains being opened, fresh flowers in vases, and even a tree inside the house. Its successful conservation is only possible if the site can continue to tell the Eameses’ principles of the guest-host relationship, meeting the need, the iterative process, the uncommon beauty of common things, the how-it-should-be-ness, the connection with nature, and more.
We hope these principles inform your understanding of the Eameses and their home and, perhaps, even become a guide for your own choices in living. The Conservation Management Plan is our tool—one we hope will inspire others and allow us to conserve this and other special places.
As we explore our next phase of conservation work, guided by the policies and recommendations of the Eames House Conservation Management Plan, we are even more optimistic that we will realize the goal of our 250 Year Project: that your great, great, great, great grandchildren may have the same authentic experience of the Eames House that you are able to have now.
The Conservation Management Plan contains over 250 new and historical images within 200+ pages. To read the CMP’s valuable insights to conservation, download your own digital copy of the Conservation Management Plan.
Visit the Eames Foundation’s website to learn how to donate to future phases of conservation.
Thank you to the Getty Conservation Institute, to Susan Macdonald, Tim Whalen, Jim Cuno, Gail Ostergren, Chandler McCoy, Laura Matarese, Kyle Normandin, Sara Galerne, Arlen Heginbotham, Joy Mazurek, Emily MacDonald-Korth, Foekje Boersme, and the late Shin Maekawa. We’d also like to thank the Getty Trust, Antoine Wilmering, the GCI Council, and many others in the museum, research and science groups, along with Sheridan Burke and Jyoti Somerville of GML Heritage for creating a document that we can embrace and use for the future.
Thank you to our Board members, Carla Atwood Hartman, Byron Atwood, Lucia Dewey Atwood, Eames Demetrios, and Llisa Demetrios, and above all, our mother and Eames Foundation founder, Lucia Eames. Thank you to David Hertsgaard and Genevieve Fong of the Eames Office and the entire Eames Foundation team.
We would also like to thank the members of our team who worked on the first phase of Conservation: Escher GuneWardena’s Frank Escher and Ravi GuneWardena, Bojana Banyasz, Julia Strickland, Tom Montgomery, Veronica Martin, Chris Rackard, all of whose findings informed the CMP. Thank you to photographers Joshua White, Leslie Schwartz, and Mitsuya Okumura for capturing the spirit of place. And thank you to our founding sponsors Herman Miller, Vitra, and the Eames Office, as well as the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Ludwick Family Foundation, the Dunard Fund, Nebo and hundreds of generous supporters. Without this help, we would not have been able to undertake the first phase of work on the structure.
– Lucia Dewey Atwood, Director of the Eames Foundation’s 250 Year Project