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Eames Demetrios: Sharing a Legacy

The Director of the Eames Office describes how he is helping to communicate, preserve and extend the work of Charles and Ray Eames.

Eames Demetrios: Sharing a Legacy


July 9th, 2013

Eames Demetrios was in Singapore last month to launch Essential Eames, an exhibition at the ArtScience Museum that captures the life and work of Charles and Ray Eames.

Essential Eames

A dissected view of the iconic Eames Lounge Chair

The exhibition not only showcases rare and never-before-seen works of the influential design couple, but offers a revealing look into their personal family lives, and invites the visitor to explore the depth and breadth of their work and interests, which range from furniture design to architecture, film, photography, toy design, exhibition design and more.

Essential Eames

House of Cards is still in production some 50 years on (the first set was produced in 1952). Users can build their own structures using the individual interlocking cards

Demetrios, who is curator of Essential Eames, says that the exhibition has something for everyone. “The nature of Charles and Ray’s work is that it is so resonant and so deep, and the way they approached the world is so important even today – maybe even more important today – that I think there will be a point of [connection for everyone, whether] for a kid or for a person who has been collecting furniture all his life.”

Essential Eames

Shown at Essential Eames, Mathematica: A World of Numbers and Beyond was the first major exhibition produced by the Eames Office. It first opened in 1961 and a version of it is still running in Boston

Essential Eames is based on An Eames Primer. The book was written by Demetrios, who has made it his mission to communicate, preserve and extend the design legacy of his grandparents through the Eames Office, where he serves as Director.

“When Ray died… I realised that if one of us didn’t really pay attention [to their work], the things we cared about would go away,” says Demetrios, who also runs his own design consultancy.

Essential Eames

The iconic Eames Molded Plastic Chair was introduced in 1950. This year, Herman Miller has launched the Molded Wood Chair, achieved with the help of today’s 3-D veneer technology

Demetrios says that extending the work of Charles and Ray Eames is an important role of the Eames Office.

The recently launched Eames Molded Wood Chair by Herman Miller is one example, though Demetrios admits that they are “very conservative” when it comes to extending the Eames furniture line.

“If we were to go 10 years without extending it in that way, that would be okay. But if tomorrow there was exactly the opportunity, that would be fine too. We’re very okay with assuming that we won’t be doing something. And I think that is the right approach.”

“We’re passionate about authenticity… we’re passionate about making sure it’s made right.”

Essential Eames

The Furniture Gallery at Essential Eames

“I think one of the areas in which we [actively] do new things and really extend the work is in education,” Demetrios continues. “For example, a big initiative we have right now is called Scale is the New Geography” which teaches people how to “organise the information they receive” through geography, maps and timelines.

Essential Eames

The Eames House Blocks form a puzzle image of the landmark Eames House. Built in 1949, the house is recognised today for its revolutionary use of space and materials

Demetrios says the lessons he learnt from Charles and Ray were picked up in the simple everyday childhood experiences, from picnics to the way breakfast was served.

“All these [experiences] were about anticipating people’s needs,” says Demetrios. “They talked a lot about the ‘guest – host’ relationship… the role of the designer essentially [being] that of a good host – anticipating the needs of the guest.”

Essential Eames

The Furniture Gallery at Essential Eames

Perhaps the reason why the work of Charles and Ray Eames continues to captivate a worldwide audience lie in what Demetrios calls “the universal connection” that the design couple made in their work, whether they were designing a chair or an exhibition.

The ideas that Charles and Ray put forth are relevant to people from all walks of life and Demetrios says they are just as important if not more so than the objects they created.

“The point is not to copy Charles and Ray, the point is not to do what they did. The point is to take those principles, those ideas [they had], and solve the many problems that are out there in the world today.”

Eames Office

Eames Demetrios

The Essential Eames exhibition is on from now till 5 January 2014 at Singapore’s ArtScience Museum.

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