Your Eames Story Contest: Runner-Up Entry

As we near the end of the internationally traveling exhibition, The World of Charles and Ray Eames, which has visited seven cities in three years, the Eames Office and Oakland Museum of California invited you to share how the design duo has impacted your life as part of our ongoing Your Eames Story series. Through the contest, we learned about the ways Charles and Ray have brought joy to your home, guided your work practice, and inspired you to produce a thoughtful, well-designed life. Thank you to all who participated! We are excited to announce that the runner-up entry is from E.B. Parker of Alfred, New York.

The Michel Collection

It’s hard for me to describe how I feel when I’m in the presence of an Eames chair. That may sound a little odd, I know, but my Eames story is not only one of passion for good design, but also one of love. I had been dating my boyfriend for just a few months when I was invited to his parent’s house for their annual Christmas Eve party. Before the Christmas Eve party though, my boyfriend had promised to take me to his grandma’s house to meet her for the first time. He had told me before about her home, but never in too much detail.

When we arrived, she greeted us at the door with open arms and promptly started giving me the grand tour of the house. A home, I later learned, that she and her late husband had designed and built together in the early 1950s. His grandma told me stories about each piece of furniture as we walked together through the house. The chairs they had acquired from Kodak’s old offices, the credenza that her husband had made for their china, the blackbird silhouette that hung in the window to deter birds from tapping on the glass.

Then, there it was: the Eames Lounge Chair. I had never seen one in person before. The worn-in leather, the layered grains of wood, the muted aluminum finishes, and it didn’t stop there. The Eames lounge lived amongst a World of Mid-Modern egos: an Eero Saarinen Womb Chair, a Bertoia Diamond Chair, two Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Chairs, a George Nelson Platform Bench, a number of Eames Molded Plastic Chairs, and a full dining set of Eames Wire Chairs with bikini pads. The entire home a carefully curated masterpiece, and I was allowed in. I had never seen anything so beautiful, yet so humble in my life.

You could say that this was the day I fell deeply in love with Charles and Ray Eames; you could also say that this was the day I fell deeply in love with my boyfriend of now four years. Looking back, it was one of the most pivotal points in my life, and I am now fortunate enough to have a piece of the Michel Collection in my own home, the black Eames fiberglass shell pictured above. Everything in my home revolves around this chair. It lives and breathes with us, shaping to our lives as we grow, and for that, I will forever be grateful for my Eames story.

Dedicated to Stephen and Nancy Michel

E.B. Parker
Adjunct Professor of Architecture & Design, Alfred State College

Read more Eames stories or submit one of your own by writing to[email protected].

The World of Charles and Ray Eames is on view at its final stop, the Oakland Museum of California, through February 18, 2019. The show features nearly 400 works, including multimedia installations, films, rare prototypes, photography, furniture, toys, products, as well as personal letters, drawings, and artwork. See it today!