Like no one else, Ray and Charles Eames shaped mid-century design and not only created a host of products that are still appreciated around the world today. With their work, the Eames also defined many times where the boundaries of design lie – only to push them again with the next project. When the two were once asked where the limits of design lay, they turned the matter around and asked: “What are the limits of problems?” It is in such a spirit that the newly founded “Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity” presents itself, where, as it says, “the lessons Ray and Charles Eames left us through their work, and more importantly, the way they approached that work, will be brought to life for a new generation ready to explore the ‘limits of problems'”.
The institute sees itself as “a virtual and physical place, limited by pixels and square metres”. In a mixture of archive, museum, knowledge repository and place of inspiration, it wants to take an unconventional look at the legacy of the famous designer couple. With thousands of artefacts, the Eames Collection sheds light on the Eames’ extraordinary partnership and their diverse interests as well as their working methods and their design methods. In addition, the institute, led by Llisa Demetrios, Ray and Charles’ granddaughter as chief curator, aims to manage the Eames’ work and make it accessible to other institutions and the general public.
“For nearly three decades,” says John Cary, president and CEO of the Institute, “a barn-like building in Petaluma, California, housed remnants of one of the most iconic design legacies of the twentieth century. When I first entered the building on a bright December day a few years ago, I felt a mixture of awe and disbelief, like a historian rediscovering a lost relic from a defining moment in the past.” The Eames’ vision, says Cary, is still relevant today because it speaks to us: “Their work is compelling because they found inspiration in everyday objects and materials to create a new perspective, new forms and a new purpose. In doing so, they allowed themselves to be infected by their relentless curiosity about the world they encountered. This way of thinking – like their work – is timeless. At the Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity, we seek to build on that foundation and create a forum for inspiration that will be equally timeless.”
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