CHARLES AND RAY EAMES.
THE CORPORATE Â DESIGNERS. Â SERVING THE RICH.
I AM TIRED OF THE DOWN ON YOUR KNEES FOR THE EAMES. Â THE RECENT DOCUMENTARY ” THE ARCHITECT AND THE PAINTER”.
WHAT REALLY SET ME OFF AND CONTINUES TO DO SO Â WAS Â THEIR PACIFIC PALISADES HOUSE OFF SANTA MONICA CANYON STARING AT THE OCEAN.
THE HOUSE BILLED AS THE HIGH TECH ULTIMATE, Â THAT WAS COMPOSED OF EVERYTHING OFF THE SHELF AND ASSEMBLED. Â LIKE A HOUSE IN A PACKAGE. Â THAT WAS THE WAY ERRO SAARINEN AND CHARLES EAMES THOUGHT IT SHOULD BE IN 1945.
I TROTTED OFF TO VISIT IT LIKE ANY Â INQUISITIVE YOUNGÂ ARCHITECT WOULD DO. Â RELUCTANT, NEVER WAS A BOX LOVER, BUT UNDERSTOOD AND INDULGED IN THE GAME.
I REMEMBER JUST BEING ASTOUNDED AT THE HOUSE HAVING AN EIGHT FOOT HIGHÂ Â RETAINING WALL RUNNING DOWN THE NORTH SIDE OF THE BUILDING. . Â THE HIGH TECH HOUSE, Â RELYING ON A Â BUILT IN RETAINING WALL? Â THIS WAS NOT A SELF CONTAINED BOX. Â THIS WAS A HOUSE BUILT INTO THE HILL . Â THE MYTH PREVAILS AS A HIGH TECH SOLUTION, WHEN Â IT HAD TONS OF CONCRETE IN ITS MAJOR WALL AND A CONCRETE FLOOR ON GRADE. THE SPIN WAS THAT, THE ORIGINAL Â CHARLES AND ERRO MATERIAL LIST FOR A RAISED HI TECH HOUSE , WAS THE SAME WITH THE NEW DESIGN THAT CHARLES AND RAY EAMES Â BUILT THREE YEARS LATER, Â EXCEPT FOR ONE ADDITIONAL STEEL BEAM. Â WHAT ABOUT THE RETAINING WALL AND CONCRETE SLAB? Â I DO NOT KNOW IF FULLER EVER FOUND FAULT WITH IT, BUT BUCKY PRIDED HIMSELF ON THE THE MINIMUMÂ MATERIALSÂ WEIGHT OF A HOUSE ,Â AND RIGHTFULLY SO FOR HIGH TECH DESIGN.
THE LOGICAL Â SOLUTION IN HILLSIDE DESIGN, IF YOU WANT A BUILDING ON GRADE, IS TO BUILD THE RETAINING WALL SEPARATE FROM THE HOUSE TO RETAIN THE HILL, AND LEAVE A SPACE BETWEEN RETAINING WALL AND HOUSE Â FOR DRAINAGE AND EROSION. Â THUS YOU THEN CAN BUILD ON A FLAT CONCRETE SLAB, Â BUT IF YOU WANT IT HIGH TECH, Â RAISE IT OFF GRADE WITH SHORT LEGS THUS ALLOWING FOR FLOOR,WALLS AND ROOF CONSTRUCTION OF LIGHT WEIGHT MATERIALS. Â THE EAMES RETAINING WALL WAS Â BUILT INTO THE HOUSE REQUIRING WATERPROOFING Â , DEALING WITH AS A COLD SURFACE AND CONCEALING OF A THICK CONCRETE WALL. Â ON THE INTERIOR PANELED WITH VERTICAL WOOD.
WHAT I READ WAS THE BIG IDEA OF A HIGH TECH BOX FLOATING ABOVE GRADE WITH THE NATURAL TERRAIN UNDISTURBED WAS DESTROYED. RAY GOT INVOLVED WITH A PRACTICAL ON GRADE SOLUTION THAT Â WAS IMPLEMENTED, Â BUT CHARLES ALWAYS WANTED AUTHORSHIP, SO IT WAS A SPUN COMBINED HOAX. Â IT IS LIKE GEHERY’S LARGE FILING CABINET ADMINISTRATION BUILDINGS NEXT TO HIS RIBBON BUILDINGS. ONE CAN NOT BELIEVE THEY ARE OF THE SAME PROJECT. Â TOTALLY CONTRASTING AND CONFLICTING DESIGNS, BUT IGNORED BY THE PRESS AND SPINELESS ARCHITECTURAL CRITICS.Â Â RAY KAPPE RESPONDING THAT THIS WAS A COMMON TACTIC OF GEHRY TO MEET BUDGET.Â Â ORHAN AYYUCE POINTING OUT TO ME THAT Â CRITICS KNOW Â THE REVIEW Â MUST BE UPBEAT AND KISSING UP, SO THE CRITIC WILL BE RECOMMENDED FOR FUTURE Â REVIEWS, Â THUS NO CRIT, Â JUST FLUFF PIECES.
THE EAMES RATIONALITY WAS TO INTERACT WITH THE MEADOW ON THE SITE. Â FINE, Â BUT AN EIGHT FOOT RETAINING WALL MEANS CHANGING A SITE, NOT INTERACTING WITH THE ORIGINAL TOPOGRAPHY. Â THE SKETCHES REVEAL THE ORIGINAL DESIGN, CASE STUDY 8, BEING A BOX WITH THE TOPO RUNNING UNDERNEATH.
THE HOUSE IS CLAIMED TO BE THE MOST SUCCESSFUL CASE STUDY HOME. Â BASED ON THE SYSTEMS APPROACH, (WHICH IS A QUESTIONABLE SPIN) AND Â MEETING THE EAMES LIVING PATTERN NEEDS.Â I WAS AMAZED AT THE OVERPOWERING CLUTTER Â IN THEIR LIFE STYLE INTERIOR. Â IN TOTAL CONTRAST TO THE MINIMALIST SPUN BUILDING. Â LIKE SO MANY PEOPLE, Â LIVING WITH THE SMALL PRECIOUS DESIGN CONSCIOUS OBJECTS TO BRING SENSUALITY, BECAUSE THE BOX SPACE AROUND THEM DOES NOT. Â THE Â DESIGN CLUTTER STIFLING.
WHEN I WASÂ AN APPRENTICE ARCHITECTÂ Â TRYING TO SAVE A BERNARD MAYBECK PACKARD SHOW ROOM IN LOS ANGELES IN 1963 Â , ONE OF ONLY TWO DESIGNS IN LOS ANGELES BY MAYBECK. Â I CONTACTED CHARLES EAMES AND HAD A CONVERSATION WITH HIM, Â HE WAS CHARMING, BUT ZERO HELP, Â WHEREAS JOHN LAUTNER STOOD BY MY SIDE AND GOT ME A LAWYER, WHEN THE Â UNION BANK PRESIDENT THREATENED ME Â WITH A LAW SUIT, Â THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR RECOMMENDED PULLING BACK, SAYING I WAS TOO YOUNG TO BE CRUCIFIED. Â THE PRESIDENT OF AID, AMERICAN INTERIOR DESIGNERS, Â ORIGINALLY BACKED THE PRESERVATION, DID A BACK FLIP AND SHE SHOWED UP AT A TV EVENT IN THE SHOW ROOM ON THE OPPOSING SIDE. THE PACKARD SHOWROOM WAS DESTROYED WITH ARTHUR FROEHLICH THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE LA Â AIA BEING THE ARCHITECT OF RECORD INVOLVED WITH THE UNION BANK REMODEL DESTRUCTION.Â Â ARTHURS SPECIALITY, BEING RACE TRACKS AND SUPER MARKETS.Â MY FIRST INTRODUCTION TO POWER AND MONEY RULING. Â I, LA, AND BERNARD MAYBECK LOST.
TALK ABOUT YOUR ARCHITECT UPSETTING THE FAMILY BY SEEKING HIS Â NEEDS. Â CHARLES DID THAT, AND WAS NOT CRUCIFIED FOR IT. Â RAY IN HER LATER YEARS WAS NOT WHAT YOU WOULD CLASSIFY AS FIGHTING WEIGHT. Â THE PUBLIC NEVER SENSING ANY CONFLICT , Â THE PERFECT ARCHITECT-ARTIST PROFESSIONAL COUPLE.
ALL DEAD AND BURIED NOW, BUT A TOPIC FOR DISCUSSION. Â I ONCE HAD A CERAMIC ARTIST, THAT WAS AN EAMES FAN AND FRIEND, THROW A DIRECT FRONTAL HIT Â OF Â RED WINE IN MY FACEÂ AT A SOCIAL GATHERING AT OUR HOME IN VENICE , BECAUSE I SAID, THE EAMES Â SERVED THE RICH. Â THE TRUTH HURTS. AND GETS REACTIONS. Â HATTY HATCH, Â ARCHITECT WAS PRESENT, AND WAS KIND ENOUGH TO COSOLE ME AND Â RELATED TO MY DRENCHING . Â AS USUAL, IN THESE SITUATIONS ONE IS REALLY ALONE, Â BUT THAT IS PART OF BEING OUTSPOKEN, Â THE EAMES SAID, Â Â “The best to the most for the least.” Â WELL THAT SOUNDS NICE, BUT WAS NOT REALITY.
PETER PIERCE OF BIOSPHERE TWO FAME , GREEN MACHINE CONSULTANT AND OUTSTANDING CREATIVE DESIGNER WORKED FOR EAMES AND SUGGESTED TO CHARLES TO DO A CHAIR FOR THE OFFICE CLEANING WOMAN.Â CHARLES RESPONDED, BY SAYING,” SHE COULD NOT AFFORD THE RESEARCH COST.”
THE BOTTOM LINE IS YOU CAN FLY ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD , YOU ARE GREETED BY THE EAMES AIRPORT CHAIR . Â PRACTICAL, BUT NOT WHAT I WOULD CALL INVITING NOR SENSUOUS. Â SORT OF LIKE OLDER STEWARDESSES THAT IGNORE Â RETIREMENT. Â I WAS RAISED ON PSA BEAUTIFUL STEWARDESSES . Â NOW THAT WAS DELIGHTFUL. Â THE YOUNG SHOULD TRAVEL THE WORLD AND SEE THE SIGHTS. Â THE START OF MANY A GOOD MARRIAGE. Â I HAD A BRIEF RELATIONSHIP WITH A FORMER PSA STEWARDESS, Â I ASKED HER TO LOOK GOOD FOR A DATE OUT ON THE TOWN, Â SHE RESPONDED WITH ALL HER PSA SCHOOLING BY LOOKING LIKE A KNOCK OUT FASHION MODEL. Â KRIS KRISTOFFERSON ONCE SANG A SONG TO HER WHILE IN FLIGHT. Â I COULD UNDERSTAND FOR GOOD REASON.
DO NOT GET ME WRONG, THE Â EAMES DESIGNED AGELESS EXCELLENT FURNITURE , Â I PARTICULARLY LIKE THE OTTOMAN AMARILLO Â CHAIR , Â BENT PLYWOOD CHAIRS. AND OFFICE DESK CHAIRS. Â THE HERMAN MILLER DISTRIBUTION WAS LIKE UP SCALE JEWELRY STORES. Â EXCLUSIVE AND PRICED FOR THE ELITE. Â I Â PERSONALLY KNOW OF A Â DRAFTSMEN THAT SAVED FOREVER TO BUY EAMES STUFF. Â WHERE AS, IF THE EAMES HAD Â MADE INROADS WITH LOWER PRICES, MORE PEOPLE WOULD BE USING EAMES DESIGNS. Â THE KNOCK OFFS ARE Â BAD, BUT FILL A FRUSTRATED NITCH. Â THE EAMES DESIGNS ARE TIMELESS AND KEEP SHOWING UP IN THE LATEST Â TRENDY HOLLYWOOD MOVIES AND HOUSES. Â IKEA HAS TAPPED INTO THE MARKET THAT IS EAGER FOR EAMES DESIGNS AND WOULD AND COULD BUY IF THE PRICES WERE LOWER. Â WHEN I SEE A STACK OF UGLY PLASTIC CHAIRS SELLING FOR FIVE DOLLARS EACH IN DISCOUNT STORES, Â AND I KNOWING WITH THE A LITTLE BIT OF Â DESIGNER SENSE AND LOOK, THAT ALL OF THE WORLD COULD BE SEATED IN DESIGN LUXURY I AM BAFFLED WHY IT HAD NOT HAPPENED?
AFTER VIEWING THE PBS MOVIE “THE ARCHITECT AND THE PAINTER” I REALIZED THAT MY DAUGHTER LUCIA, Â THE DOCUMENTARY FILM MAKER OF “MY FATHER THE GENIUS” GOT HER NAME FROM EAMES. Â SINCE THE DAUGHTER OF EAMES FIRST MARRIAGE WAS NAMED Â LUCIA. Â I KNOWING AN ARCHITECTURAL SECRETARY JENNER Â WHO’S HUSBAND WAS AN ARCHITECT AND HUNG OUT WITH THE EARLY DESIGN CROWD IN LA WHICH INCLUDED THE EAMES, LAUTNER, Â ETC. Â JENNER NAMED HER DAUGHTER LUCIA AFTER EAMES AND THEN I NAMED MY DAUGHTER LUCIA FROM JENNER’S RECOMMENDATION.
OUR HOME WITH WIFE 2 MILICA IN VENICE WAS A STONES THROW AWAY FROM THE EAMES OFFICE IN VENICE. Â BUT THAT WAS 1980-1990 Â AFTER CHARLES DIED AND RAY WAS RUNNING THE SHOW. Â I LIVING AND WORKING IN VENICE SINCE 1968 MUST HAVE ALMOST TRIPED OVER THE EAMES.
THE RECENT MOVIE WAS FASCINATING. Â THE GREAT IDEAL JOB OF WORKING WITH CORPORATIONS TO SELL PRODUCTS AND THE AMERICAN DREAM. Â I AM SURE THE EAMES WOULD HAVE A DIFFERENT TAKE TODAY ON THAT. BUT IT SHOWS Â A CERTAIN NIEVE IGNORANCE OF Â USA IMPERIALISM IN THE WORLD, GUATEMALA, Â NICARAGUA, Â CHILI ,Â AT THAT TIME,TO NAME A FEW. Â THE ARTIST USED, AND YET CREATING A BUNCH OF COOL IDEAS . Â PARTIALLY A PRODUCT OF TUNNEL VISION EDUCATION. Â CONCENTRATING ON THE CRAFT, BUT NOT THE SCOPE OF WORLD KNOWLEDGE. Â BUCKMINISTER FULLER DOING THE DOMES FOR EAMES EXHIBITS WAS PART OF THE PACKAGE OF THE COLD WAR. WE ALL THEN Â BEING PROUD OF OUR CORPORATIONS AND THINKING OF THEM AS NATIONAL TREASURES.
WHAT WAS REFRESHING WAS TO SEE THE EAMES LIFE STYLE CONSUMED BY DESIGN. Â WORKING AND LIVING IN A CONSISTENT Â SURROUNDING OF DESIGN THOUGHTS AND OBJECTS. Â THE MOVIE CALLING SEAMLESS.
THE COMMENT THAT RAY WAS INTO PERFECTIONISM THAT BLOCKED HER ABILTY TO PERFORM WAS PERCEPTIVE. Â A COMMON TRAIT THAT I KEEP COMING IN CONTACT WITH. Â MY SISTER HAD A BIT OF THAT TOO. Â I THINK IT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED MORE.
KEVIN ROACH COMMENTED Â ABOUT BEING SERVED FLOWERS FOR DESERT AT THE EAMES HOUSE, WHEN HE WAS HUNGRY, AND AFTERWARDS RESORTING TO RUNNING OFF TO A DIARY QUEEN TO SATISFY HIS CRAVING, Â SHOWS RAY BEING OUT OF TOUCH WITH REALITY. Â Â THE DESIGN WORLD SETS UP A HUGE BARRIER TO RELATE TO THE MASSES. Â AGAIN SOMETHING THAT Â NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED TO SPIN THE ENRICHED LIFE ONE HAS WITH DESIGN UNDERSTANDING. Â I AM TALKING ABOUT A BROAD PERSPECTIVE THAT RUNS THE WHOLE GAMET FROM GOTHIC, JAPANESE, MODERN, ORGANIC, RUSTIC, FRENCH PROVINCIAL, ETC. Â WITH THIS HUGE LIST OF DESIGN UNDERSTANDING Â IT MAKES A CHOICE OF PREFERENCE DIFFICULT AND TRITE.
THE BIT IN THE MOVIE WHERE THE WHOLE OFFICE TAKES OFF TO GO TO THE CIRCUS AND PHOTOGRAPH EVERYTHING WAS A SHOCK FOR ME. Â SINCE I NEVER REALLY LIKED THE CIRCUS. Â BUT IT DEMONSTRATES A CERTAIN PLAYFULNESS THAT REFLECTS IN THE EAMES EXHIBITS THAT TRAVELED THE WORLD AND STOOD FOR FLEETING MOMENTS.
THE TRAGIC STATEMENT BY RAY THAT CHARLES LEFT HER IN THE COLD WITH ALL HIS INTEREST IN SCIENCE, MATH AND ARCHITECTURE. Â SHE BEING A PAINTER COULD NOT RELATE. Â SORT THAT ONE OUT.
CHARLES IN LATTER YEARS WAS NOT Â INTERESTED IN DOING ANOTHER CHAIR, AND YET CHAIRS ARE WHAT THE EAMES WILL LEAVE FOR POSTERITY.
ALL CURRENT PRICES.
CHARLES DID A MOVIE ON BUBBLES THAT IS INSPIRATIONAL WHICH STILL HAS NOT BEEN TURNED INTO A SUCCESSFUL BUILDING, BUT ARCHITECTS KEEP TRYING. Â CHARLES MOVIE POWERS OF TEN Â A HUGE SUCCESS THATÂ GETS THE ATTENTION, I AM SURE RAY DOWN DEEP FOUND IT BORING, AS I DID.
STANDING BACK AND BEING CONCERNED ABOUT THIS STUFF IS A WASTE Â OF MY CREATIVE JUICES, Â BUT THE MIND CAN NOT SHUT DOWN, AND IS FILLED WITH ARCHITECTURAL GOSSIP.Â CHATTING IS A RELEASE VALVE TO REDUCE TRIVIA Â PRESSURE.
JUST CHECKING THE COMMENT SYSTEM OUT
Hi Glen, interesting take on Eames. I got to work on an Eames project for one day for Howard Lathrop while he was finishing up one of the Eames designed museum exhibits, which of course, was called MONEY, haha
Also Orhan’s remark about most architectural writing as puff pieces instead of real criticism originally came from a conversation from me, which was from an old 1980s PA article on the why there is no architectural criticism today.
That PA analysis of industry self-criticism stemmed from the practice of design magazines not to cut off the hand that feeds them photos. The same with many of the awards that PA and Record gave out. The inside story on that makes one very cynical about the honesty of competitions and awards.
Nowadays the internet has broken the stranglehold that the two or three design mags had on the industry. The puff piece journalism argument no longer applies. Just think of Archinect whose readership is very large and editorially doesn’t depend on advertising nor the strongarm tactics by firms to curtail and negative or critical writing.
Also Orhanâ€™s remark about most architectural writing as puff pieces instead of real criticism originally came from a conversation from me, which was from an old 1980s PA article on the why there is no architectural criticism today.
Eric, I don’t really remember that and it is not an original discovery anyway that many people write architecture write puff pieces. I mentioned that many times in my articles over the years.
There was a lot of mirror gazing and soul; searching on the subject of criticism in the 70 and 80s. As I saw then it if there was advertising dollars then any criticism was out. It was being negative. Same as today. Only academic peer review had any critical pov. Money corrupted the discourse.
Thanks to Glen I taught a couple of classes at SCI-Arc entitled CRITICISM, with the idea , at the time, that criticism was left out of architectural writing. And I would energize criticism on my own. Of course my notion of criticism was not what was considered criticism, even then. It was not political. or social based criticism. It was my own thing, my conversation on aesthetic, structural, formal approaches to architecture. Like how I write now, especially about Glen.
Needless to say SCI-Arc faculty didn’t get it. The students did, and it did them well, at least some of them.
thanks for being my friend over the years eric. i remember you inviting me as a guest few times. it was indeed a good class and not understood by the management so well. i remember one of your students being brendan mac farlane who is now a well known architect in paris.
i also remember a lot of critical views being discussed at length in john knight’s new york studio few years prior to your class. i thought your class suffered a bit leaving out potentially charged political connection, but yes, your analogy of graphic layout of advertisement clips were good for students to employ in their projects probably. as you well know most of them were involved in,well, blinded form making as influenced by the usual suspects at the time.
i am just surprised at your attempt to domesticate those days.
“STANDING BACK AND BEING CONCERNED ABOUT THIS STUFF IS A WASTE OF MY CREATIVE JUICES” – I agree, Glen.
I ALWAYS ENJOY YOUR PERSPECTIVE.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO, IF YOU WERE I ?
This was your perspective, which I agreed with.
I will try and answer your question based on my understanding of you.
Here is what I would do, if I were you.
1) BOOK : Why not start with an E, and take it from there. Also stop waiting for people to do it for you, as it is your dream, not theirs. After all, self help is the best help.
Maybe you should plan writing a trilogy, obviously you have a good starting point which is your blog. I must say I was impressed with Tim, as he has achieved in part what I have been thinking of doingâ€¦.writing a book for kids. â€œLuluâ€ or other web sites could be a start for publishing your book. Plus Eric says he can show you how to get published.
If I were you â€“ I would get started now, and ready for an e-book by Dec 2012, with a commitment on my blog.
2) DESIGN : Why not spend a couple of hours designing daily, as this is what you love the most. Maybe you could start on a couple of entries for 2013 Evolo, maybe you can identify how you can improve the built environment in your community and present that to your community or the council, maybe you can design temporary / mobile or other structures for your Occupy Wall Street group, maybeâ€¦..
If I were you â€“ I would do at least 2 new designs in the year 2012, with a commitment on my blog.
3) TEACH : Why not try and teach free of charge drawing/sculpture at your local school/college, even if it means going in once a month, or maybe gather people from different professions and give free lectures with them after say your Occupy WS meetings, or maybe lecture in front of the camera and post it on You Tube, or maybeâ€¦.
If I were you â€“ I would give atleast 3 lectures to any group, any where by the end of 2012, with a commitment on my blog.
4) BLOG : I assure you that the blogs about Glen Small are more interesting than the one about Eameâ€™s retaining wall.
If I were you â€“ Iâ€™d keep up the good work you are doing on your blog.
However, if I were me at 74 years, I would most probably not bother with any of the above, but try and enjoy the beach and time with my family.
THE BOOK THING I HAVE BEEN DOING FOR THE LAST TWENTY YEARS. AND WITH MY BLOG I GIVE A WHOLE NEW TWIST THE WAY I AM REWRITING THE INFORMATION. THE TRICK BEING TO RAMBLE WITH ALL THE HUMAN AND DESIGN ASPECTS THAT GO INTO A PROJECT. A SLOW DRAWN OUT FORM. VS THE PICTURE, TITLE, AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION.
TO DO IT RIGHT I NEED TO DIG INTO MY GARAGE WITH ALL THE DEVELOPMENT TO SOLUTION STUFF ECT.
I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THE AMOUNT OF INFORMATION I WANT TO INCLUDE.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF FIVE BOOKS INSTEAD OF ONE?
HOUSES, FURNITURE, POTTERY
DESIGN: I HAVE TWO LARGE DESIGN PROJECTS NOW. WAITING FOR CLIENTS TO GO FOWARD.
I LIKED THE EVLO COMPETITION THING 2012, AND WILL DO ANOTHER FOR 2013
TEACH. I AM THROUGH WITH THAT. I WANT A RESEARCH LAB. MASTER WITH APPRENTICES TO ASSIST.
I ENJOY LECTURES TO LARGE AUDIENCES AND TO PEOPLE THAT CAN RELATE. RECENTLY DEAD.
BLOG: AS YOU POINTED OUT I CAN DO TWO THINGS
TALK ABOUT MY WORK.
TALK ABOUT OTHER ARCHITECTS PROJECTS:
BOTH ERIC AND TIM THINK I NEED TO COMMENT ON BUILDINGS AND ARCHITECTS.
I DO WANT A LIFE OF RELAXATION. I GET THAT IN NICARAGUA, BUT DESIGN WORK IS MY TRUE LOVE. I AM IN LIMBO, SEEKING ANSWERS.
THANKS FOR YOUR SUGGESTIONS AND CONCERN,
One of the keys to writing is editing: for content (stay on message) ; for length ( to make it readable) ; and for style ( to express yourself best and for others to enjoy) \
One step at a time.
I had thought that a 3 part book about your life and architecture – 1) The Early Years, 2) Somewhere in the Middle, 3) Old and wise?
might have made interesting reading.
5 books I guess is more ambitious, but may have less variety as each book is mainly focused on a singular topic.
Glen, when do you plan to finish writing the first in your series of 5 books?
THANKS FOR YOUR SUGGESTIONS ON 3 BOOKS VS 5
WHEN I STARTED THE IDEA OF WRITING A BOOK I WANTED IT TO BE DIFFERENT THAN THE REGULAR ARCHITECTURAL BOOK ABOUT PICTURE OF PROJECT, PLANS OF PROJECT AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION AND TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF PROJECT.
THE WHOLE PACKAGE ABOUT MY LIFE AT THE TIME AS WELL. MY PRIVATE LIFE A BIT DIFFERENT THAN NORMAL. AFTER A FRIEND SAID, I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW THE SEX LIFE OF GLEN. I PULLED BACK AND REALIZED THAT WAS NOT ARCHITECTURE, AND WOULD BRING HARM TO NICE WOMEN AND FAMILY. ALTHOUGH IT HAS A LOT TO DO WITH MY ARCHITECTURAL CAREER AND IS ENTERTAINING. SO I SPLIT UP MY LIFE AND FOCUSED ON THE CATEGORIES OF WORK.
A PIECE OF POTTERY, THEN A BUILDING, AND ONTO AN URBAN PLANNING SCALE INTERWOVEN WITH MY EDITED VERSION OF PERSONAL LIFE. .
WITH THE BLOG, I CAN DESCRIBE THE WHOLE SCENE, AND THE MORE I ZOOM IN ON THE DETAILS THE MORE SENSE IT ALL MAKES. BUT THE PROBLEM IS THERE IS TOO MUCH TO INCLUDE. OVERLOAD OF MATERIAL. THE LATEST PROJECT FOR EVOLO IS A CHAPTER. SO IT KEEPS EXPANDING.
THERE IS THIS DESIRE TO RECORD AND LEAVE WHAT I HAVE DESIGNED AND THOUGHT ABOUT. AT THE SAME TIME THIS ALL COULD HAPPEN CORRECTLY WITH A PILE OF CASH TO GET ASSISTANTS TO HELP ME TO DO IT UP RIGHT. BUT THE REALITY IS I AM ALONE. TYPING TO YOU. TAKING A CLIENT FRIEND TO THE HOSPITAL TOMORROW. PUTTING THE NEXT BLOG TOGETHER. WAITING FOR MY GRAND KIDS BASKETBALL GAMES SATURDAY AND THE EVOLO JUDGING RESULTS MONDAY. THIS IS THE BOOK.
MY SKILL DOING THE NEXT DESIGN,
WHAT DO YOU SUGGEST?
I am a bit confused. You mention that you would like to write 5 books then you say that ” this (the blog) is the book”.
I don’t see anything wrong in that. If you are happy with the blog being the book, then that is good.
I agree, the next design is what matters the most.
I posted this awhile ago on Archinect. Still apropos
Lets face it. Case Study, mid-century, style is just another ‘lifestyle choice’ as the mags point out. This choice of aesthetics, derived and denuded from heroic modernism is without it’s heroes, or manifestos or any of the now forgotten left-wing revolutionary agenda associated with the ‘look’. Where is ABC when we need them?
The case study STYLE too me is a too cool aesthetic, more like a fetish world, and works best as a stage-set for sexual fantasies or high-end porn. I thinks that’s why black and leather are the dominant color and material for mid-c mod fashion and furniture. I could go on but you probably have your own ‘picture’ or ‘film’ already in your minds eye. …I can see you are smiling ready…and ready for your close up
I LIKE YOUR HIP ANSWER AND IT MADE ME LAUGH, BUT I DISAGREE WITH YOU ON THIS ONE. THERE WAS A SINCERE MOVEMENT AT THE TIME TO MAKE HOUSING AVAILABLE TO THE MASSES IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AND THE BAY AREA THAT HAD MODERN ARCHITECTURAL OBJECTIVES. GREGORY AINE, SCHINDLER, NEUTRA, KAPPE ETC, BUT THE BIG ONE THAT MADE IS ALL HAPPEN WAS THE DEVELOPER EICHLER OF EICHLER HOMES. THE CENTRAL ATRIUM PITCHED BY BOB ANSHEN THE CLINCHER. EICHLER HAD A MASS PRE FAB SYSTEM OF PARTS THAT BEAT THE COMPETITION. HE INSISTED ON HIGH END DESIGN. NOTHING HAS COME CLOSE SINCE. THE COMPETITION AT THE TIME WAS THE DREADFUL TRACK HOUSING FOR VETERANS.
WALLS OF GLASS, DECKS, EXPRESSED STRUCTURE, INSIDE EXTENDING TO OUTSIDE, SIMPLE PLAIN SURFACES, THE HOUSES LOOKED HUGE WITH THE OPEN PLANS, IT WENT WITH THE CALIFORNIA LIFE STYLE.
EICHLER HOMES WERE THE PREFERRED TRACK HOME OF THE ERA, THEY WERE THE CHEAPEST. I LIVED IN A WOODIE GOODIE ON MULHOLLAND. I MUST SAY THE FEELING WAS GREAT. NO IT WAS A MOVEMENT. THE ARCHITECTS WERE SELLING A LIFE STYLE. LIKE ANY SOPHISTICATED STYLE, THE RICH MIGRATED TO IT AND THE HOMES GOT HUGE.
THE CASE STUDY HOUSES WERE JUST PUSHING THE STYLE. THESE WERE NOT LARGE HOUSES.
YUPPIES FIGHT OVER THESE MID CENTURY MODERN HOMES TODAY. A FORM OF CLASS DISTINCTION FOR BEING EDUCATED. BUT ALSO BECAUSE THEM ARE VERY PLEASANT TO LIVE IN.
THE DOWNFALL IS A MYSTERY TO ME. I THINK THE BUILDERS TOOK OVER WITH THE THE RANCH STYLE HOME AT SAME PRICE AND THREW THEIR JUNK AT IT AND THE PUBLIC WENT WITH THEM.
TALK TO RAY KAPPE ABOUT IT.
A MOVEMENT AND DREAM THAT WAS JUST A BLIP IN THE STYLE CYCLE. THAT SHOWED ME THE MASSES DO NOT KNOW GOOD THINGS EVEN WHEN THEY EXPERIENCE THEM.
Glen, is this related to your “Serving the Rich” postings?
YES THE DILEMMA OF THE DESIGNER, THE RICH ARE THE ONLY ONES THAT CAN AFFORD THE HIGH PRICE OF THE EAMES CHAIRS.
AS I POINTED OUT HIGH DESIGN CAN BE AT EVER CLASS LEVEL, BUT IF YOU LOOK AT WHAT PEOPLE WANT, IT IS A FAR CRY FROM THE EAMES CHAIRS.
Glen wrote: “YES THE DILEMMA OF THE DESIGNER, THE RICH ARE THE ONLY ONES THAT CAN AFFORD THE HIGH PRICE OF THE EAMES CHAIRS”
But Glen, that is not the dilemma of the designer, that is the dilemma of the businessperson!
The artist designs that which he/she considers beautiful or creative or which makes some kind of statement, without inconveniencing him/herself with the mundane.
I remember a lecture at SCI-Arc from an older architect / designer who was a student at the Bauhaus at the times when Hannes Meyer, and later Mies van der Rohr, ran the school. The lecturer, whom I forget his name, compared the two directors in terms of modern chair design. Hannes Meyer, a committed communist, emphasized affordability in the designs. Mies, aesthetics. Both chairs were equally functional and modern and could be mass produced as per the program. The Hannes Meyer chair would cost $22 in today’s market to produce. Mies’s, about $1200. Good design can be affordable.
I AM A FIRM BELIEVER AS WELL, THAT GOOD DESIGN CAN BE AFFORDABLE. BUT THAT DOES NOT PLAY WELL IN OUR PRESENT SYSTEM. THE IDEA IS TO MAKE THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF RETURN ON THE DOLLAR INVESTED.
I SEE IT IN MYSELF AS WELL. AT THE PRESENT MOMENT I AM SURROUNDED BY PEOPLE DESPERATE FOR MONEY, WITH THAT INSECURITY THERE IS A DRIVE TO GET THE MAXIMUM.
RECENTLY AT THE THRIFT STORE I BOUGHT THE BEST DOWN JACKET THAT I HAVE EVER OWNED, IT NEEDED A BIT OF MY NEEDLE WORK, FOR $14 . THAT AN MY NEW BOOTS FOR $2 ALLOW ME TO SURVIVE IN BEAUTIFUL OREGON AND LOOK LIKE A SUCCESSFUL ARCHITECT.
YOU ARE TEASING ME TO FALL INTO YOUR CONSTANT CONCERN OF SOLVING THE DETAILS IN THE MINIMUM WAY, THUS MAKING IT AFFORDABLE. RECTANGLE HOUSING VS CURVED HOUSING.
THE CHALLENGE IS TO BRING THE CURVY GOOD LOOKING FUNCTIONAL HIGH END DESIGN TO THE MASSES. FULLER WAS INTO THAT WITH HIS INDUSTRIAL APPROACH, WE HAVE FAILED TO ACHIEVE THAT YET, BUT WHAT I FEAR IS THAT IT WILL BE MARKETED FOR THE RICH INSTEAD OF THE MASSES.
I like the thrift store anecdote. I use found objects as a palette.
You can also be very creative, and also trendsetting, just modifying existing things and objects. Clothes for example. Alison would find a unique set of buttons and totally transform a coat – making it her style. Alison’s mix and match dress style would get her stopped and the street – and asked if she was a fashion stylist. She got copied often.
Furniture can be reworked, the right color paint, an exchange of hardware. I once put together colorful set mix and match dishes for a dinner party. Design – it all has to do with communicating intention..
Modifying architecture can be done with the same ad hoc manner. I like adding on, reusing, and modifying components for effect. It is because I am cheap I think, and my technical abilities are limited. I am clumsy too.
My approach to detailing is similar: to simplify. I add onto or take-away and make it different. I have several ‘stock’ designs that I reuse. We all do. It is part of our ‘modern’ design thinking. Components and modules, systems.
This discussion started about the Eames house. I think the difference is less the design approach and more how the designs are received, interpreted, and re-interpreted.
The ‘down-on-your-kness’ for Eames is the re-interpretation, Eames as a lifestyle choice, for better. It is high end and a cultural separator, you are either hip or out of the loop. Eames case study, green… each cultural markers.
We have no rigid class system in America as once in India. Our classes are separated by symbols, lifestyles. Sociology 101: the visual taste distinctions of the poor, middle, rich and very rich classes.
But the artist alone, floats among, along and in-between them all , in a separate reality. It is the source of our anxiety, our groundlessness, our tragedy, to see yet not belong. I suppose that’s why architects prefer to wear black. I feel the separateness of the outsider too, but in a different way. I feel free. The artist in his own time is a free man, THE free man.
Be free my friend, be free.
THE MUNDANE BEING THE MARKETING OR AFFORDABILITY OF CONSTRUCTION?
H i Glen,
Glad I can make you laugh once and a while.
But mostly my arrow’s aim was at the neo case-study architecture pictured as glossy centerfold spreads in mags such as DWELL. The de-nuded politics reference has to do with less with the older post-war deigns than it does with whats happening now. The sequence from pre-war political to post war technical solutions to todays aesthic emphasis is the trend I recognized.
Glen this just came thru:
“ARTIST Damien Hirst has unveiled plans to build more than 500 landmark eco-homes in Ilfracombe, which he hopes will regenerate the town and provide a national blueprint for environmental housing.
Architects working for Hirst, said to be the richest living artist in the world, hope to submit a planning application for the development at Winsham Farm in six months.”
Well I guess you should of been nicer to our Jan since she ran away with Hirst. Sigh…
I WISH DAMIEN HIRST THE BEST OF SUCCESS WITH HIS VENTURE OF ECO HOMES. I AM SURE JAN IS ADVISING HIM. OH WELL, MONEY TALKS AND JAN IS INTO THAT.
I THINK DAMIEN HIRST LAST WORDS TO ME ARE SOMETHING LIKE. ” ARE YOU GOING TO BEAT ME UP?” HE IS A LITTLE GUY AND MY SIZE SCARED HIM. I WAS NOT SURE WHAT PROMPTED THAT COMMENT, MAYBE HE KNEW MORE THAN I , BUT THOUGHT I KNEW MORE THAN I DID.
I HAD A WONDERFUL TIME WITH JAN MARDIAN FOR FOUR YEARS AND I WISH HER NOTHING BUT THE BEST.
IT REMINDS ME OF SOME OLD MOVIE I REMEMBER WHERE ALL THE PREVIOUS SUITORS DISCUSS THE TIME THEY HAD WITH MISS X . JAN’S TALES WOULD TAKE AN EPIC BOOK TO RECORD .
ORHAN AYYUCE ON ARCHINECT HAS COOSEN TO SCOLD ME ABOUT MY LAST COMMENTS CONCERNING JAN MARDIAN BEING TOO PERSONAL.
ORHAN IS MY BUDDY AND I RESPECT HIS VIEWPOINT, I AM SORRY THAT I UPSET HIM WITH MY COMMENTS. ORHAN HAS BASED HIS MOST INSIGHTFUL CRITICAL CAREER ON REVEALING TRUTHS WHERE OTHERS HAVE NOT DARED TO TREAD. THAT I RESPECT ABOUT HIM. HE IS ALSO A PERSONAL FRIEND, SO HIS OUTBURST WAS A SHOCK. BUT HE IS ENTITLED TO HIS VIEWPOINT, JUST LIKE I AM ENTITLED TO MINE.
ARCHITECTURE IS INTERWOVEN WITH PERSONAL LIVES. I HAVE BEEN CONSISTENT WITH BRINGING THAT TO MY READERS ATTENTION AND I WILL DO SO IN THE FUTURE. I THINK THAT IS NOT A JARRING DISCOVERY.
BRENDON GILL IN HIS BOOK “MANY MASKS” ON FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT WENT INTO SIGNIFICANT DETAIL TO EXPLAIN THE ARCHITECT’S LIFE PROFESSIONALLY AND PRIVATELY. THAT IS WHAT MAKES GOOD REPORTING AND A FOUNDATION TO LEARN FROM.
ORHAN AYYUCE HAS REMOVED HIS COMMENT ON ARCHINECT CHASTISING ME. WE EXCHANGED OUR CONCERNS AND ARE BACK ON TRACK.
I MADE A CATTY REMARK OF JAN MARDIAN BEING ASSOCIATED WITH THE ECO HOUSING PROJECT OF DAMIAN HERIST. SORRY ABOUT THAT, THE REMARK WAS GROUNDLESS. I HAVE NO WAY OF KNOWING WHETHER SHE IS OR NOT, I APOLOGIZE.
Glen, No harm intended nor done. Either by you or me. It is just that the intended IRONY didnt come across. That is, a meeting by one of the fathers of green architecture (you) and someone now willing to spend millions on ‘eco-homes’ architecture (Hirst). …could of , should of, would of… if only?.. I got the irony but it needed a context. This is why it do\idnt work.
What I like about Eames retaining wall is that allowed him to set the building as far as possible from the cliff and allowed a beautiful space in front of the building. Today’s nouveau riche homeowners would be right on the edge showing the world they own the hillside and capture every inch of the vista. Well vistas are two way street you know..
It is a conventional retaining wall and solves the retaining wall system for the detached cubes with one strike. It could set the buildings few feet away from the stand alone retaining wall.
But I have the same feelings as you have about being high tech ultimate design. At that level, it is written by a total buzz- wo/man making cult heroes of them. I thought recent art of California extravaganza in every museum in LA , Pacific Standart Time, really speaks to those fans and Eames people made a real smart move by reinstalling their house interiors in re-enacted full size maquette in a museum space. Good PR.
Here is a good comment on architecture media. From my interview with Ole Bouman in 2010 called OLE BOUMAN: On Survival, the head of Nederland’s institute of architecture, couple of years ago.
The particular question I quote below kind of touches similar nerves.
I ask him this question because he is also involved publishing one of the best magazines called, Volume.
OA- What about the nature of popular architectural media? It is over decidedly consumer product friendly. The actual content of the featured story is hard to separate from adjacent advertisement page of the material manufacturer.
In that way, it goes as far as feeding and, in the same time, contaminating the architectural practice. Architects do submit to the media. That submission is usually very â€˜buzzâ€™ like.
What are your thoughts about architectural media, writing and the audience? What can be innovative in this area?
OB- Architecture media are of all kinds. As long as they are facilitating a market, they tend to turn into a commodity. If the media are giving the answers to what has been done (info updates), on how it is done (technical stories) or who did it (celebrity press), the media will move between trade and human interest. This is not particularly destructive to architecture, but is not productive either. It is a derivative, a secondary economy of first hand production. It capitalizes on the perceived greatness of architecture without adding much to that. I have always been fond of the question that as a sign of curiosity leaves all other questions far behind: why . The greatness of architecture needs a culture of speculation, reflexivity, good story telling. Architecture can not thrive without the continued probing of its promise.
The greatness of architecture needs a culture of speculation, reflexivity, good story telling. Architecture can not thrive without the continued probing of its promise. I myself have always tried to associate architecture to the world of ideas, to cultural analysis, to historical backgrounds, to psychological set ups, to technological revolutions, to social tendencies, to economical models. Currently, by publishing a book on Architecture of Consequence, I try to reconnect architecture to the burning issues of our time and give it back its tremendous relevance that large parts of society denies it. Architecture, the lucid organization of space, is the pinnacle of human inventivity. It deserves our best minds.
THANKS FOR THE COMMENT, I READ THE WHOLE INTERVIEW WITH OLE BOUMAN. INSPIRATIONAL TO HEAR THE CHATTER.
AFTER THE DIALOGUE , A MANIFESTO FOR ARCHITECTURE NEEDS TO BE
ISSUED. LIKE A MEDICAL OATH TO DO EVERYTHING IN ONES CAPACITY TO BETTER THE WORLD WITH 3 DIMENSIONAL SPACE.
WHAT IS OUT OF THE ARCHITECTS CONTROL IS A WHOLE SET OF ISSUES FROM GOVERNMENTAL AND CORPORATION OBJECTIVES, PLANNING AND BUILDING DEPARTMENT REGULATIONS TO INTELLIGENCE, SENSITIVITY, MORALITY, FINANCES, AND CAPABILITIES OF THE CLIENTS AND MONEY INSTITUTIONS. PLUS ALL THE SPIN TO CONVINCE THE POPULOUS.
SO AN ARCHITECT CAN QUOTE THE MANIFESTO, BUT HAVE NO INFLUENCE OVER THE BUILT REALITY. EXCEPT LIKE “BIG” WHO HAVE BECOME THE DIRECTOR OF COMBINING ALL ISSUES. BUT THEIR LATEST PROPOSAL FOR PARK UTAH IS OUT OF CONTROL AND VERY DETRIMENTAL TO THE COMMUNITY. I AM SURE THEY WOULD TAKE ISSUE WITH THAT, BUT I AM PREPARED TO SHOW WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE IF THEY ARE INTERESTED, WHICH THEY ARE NOT.
THE POINT BEING ARCHITECTS ARE TRAINED TO DIRECT AND CO ORDINATE, BUT IN REALITY FUNCTION AS A SERVICE PROFESSION FOR OTHERS IN CONTROL.
THE ISSUE OF TALENT AND CREATIVE SOLUTIONS WAS NOT RAISED. SO ALL THE RIGHT INTENTIONS ARE AGREED UPON, BUT WITHOUT CREATIVE DESIGN AND TALENT, A BANAL REALITY WILL OCCURE, THAT MEET THE FUNCTIONAL REQUIREMENTS, BUT A BORE TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH. WE CAN USE WORDS OF INSPIRATION AND ENLIGHTENING SPACES, BUT THAT IS NOT THE CAPABILITIES OF MANY A SINCERE NICE ARCHITECT.
THE ONLY PERSON I REALLY TRUST IS MYSELF, AND SOMETIMES I FAIL.
SO IT IS NOT A PROVEN PATH, BUT ONE OF SOCIETY BUILDING FOR BETTER OR WORSE.
Thanks for the article. It made me laugh when I read that someone threw red wine in your face. Man that person is passionate about who he likes.