The Eames House, a U.S. landmark of post-war modern architecture (pictured in the featured image above) is falling into disrepair; and to help rescue the building from the fate of countless underfunded construction projects, the Eames Foundation has recently launched a fundraising campaign to help save the Southern California monument of modern design. In collaboration with the award-winning digital marketing agency Nebo, 500 hand-numbered prints of original works inspired by the simple geometry of the Eames’s designs will be produced and proceeds from all sales will be channeled toward preservation efforts. Campaign partners Herman Miller and Vitra will also match each $75 print purchase through the newly established Authenticity Fund.
The Eames House Must Be Saved
“Our goal with this campaign is to raise $150,000 toward preserving and protecting the Eames house for the next 250 years,” says Eames Demetrios, chairman of the board of the Eames Foundation.
One tends to think of the Eames House as a stand-alone example of modern architecture, but it was initially one of close to two dozen homes designed in The Case Study House Program, launched in the mid-1940s by John Entenza, then publisher of Arts and Architecture magazine. The Eames House—or by its first name, Case Study House No. 8—was a physical manifestation of a challenge to the architectural community to design a series of homes that express man’s life in the modern world. The program announcement stated that each house “must be capable of duplication and in no sense be an individual ‘performance’… It is important that the best material available be used in the best possible way in order to arrive at a ‘good’ solution of each problem, which in the overall program will be general enough to be of practical assistance to the average American in search of a home in which he can afford to live.”
(Read the original Case Study House Program announcement that ran in the January 1945 issue of Arts & Architecture for a fuller view of the project). Each home’s design was published in a subsequent issue of the magazine.
Among the architects tapped to contribute to this endeavor were Pierre Koenig, Eero Saarinen, John Rex, and Charles Eames. Charles and Saarinen teamed up to conceive plans for the Bridge House, a home designed for a married couple working in the fields of design and graphic arts, whose children were no longer living at home.
In a design brief printed in Arts & Architecture, the architects intended for the home to be “protected on all sides from intrusive developments free of the usual surrounding clutter,” and safe from “urban clatter,” but not “removed from the necessary conveniences and the reassurances of city living.” The structure was designed to be an integral part of what they called a “living pattern,” at the center of productive activities.
Utilizing post-war mass production capabilities, prefabricated parts were ordered from catalogs but due to a war-driven steel shortage, the essential parts didn’t arrive until nearly three years later. According Charles’s wife Ray, her husband had “fallen in love with the meadow,” of the building site, and readjusted their plans to preserve the site’s natural bounties and “maximize volume from minimal materials,” by integrating the building into the site, instead of merely inserting the structure into the landscape.
The new plans were published in the magazine in May of 1949, and the couple moved into the home on Christmas Eve of that same year.
To see the home as it was during Charles’s and Ray’s time living there, take a look at a film Charles shot and composed five years after their move-in.
The foundation is rapidly approaching its goal to raise $150,000 and we hope you will join them in their efforts to save the Eames House. To purchase your print and help save this icon of design, visit eameshouse250.org.
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