There’s a piece of tumbleweed that dangles from the roof in the Eames House that has been there since Charles and Ray Eames moved in. “They picked it up,” the guide told me on my last visit “when they were driving from the East Coast to the West, moving to California as part of their honeymoon.” Now, some 65 odd years later, there it is, just as it was on the day they saved it from a rogue wind, and there too, is the house.
One of the famous Case Study Houses that was built as a project for Arts & Architecture magazine, to understand just how incredible the clifftop abode truly is, you really need to grasp that it was built in 1949. A time when belted tweed coats with butterfly sleeves were considered the height of sophistication, design pioneers Charles and Ray looked past the current trends to create a modern home and studio that has never since wavered in relevance. The pair’s primary residence, unlike so many other avant garde designs of its time, Case Study House No. 8 isn’t cold or stark, it brims with personality — and that, right there, is why I love it.
Lying now, just as Ray left it when she passed in 1978 (10 years to the day after Charles) a pilgrimage to the landmark of mid-20th century modern architecture doesn’t just give design devotees the chance to peer into the creation of the unconventional thinkers, but their lives. Cluttered with books, furniture, gifts from friends, art and possessions, you can imagine the pair eating breakfast at the formica-topped kitchen table or scamping up new ideas in the outside office. Their lives are respectably enshrined. So while the architecture, the materials and the site are nothing short of pure excellence, that’s not the reason I will forever love the Eames House. It’s because it was theirs, and in so many ways, it still is.