If you had written off Eames as a name synonymous with a certain type of look and chair that figures prominently within mags like Dwell and within the walls of austere mid-century modernist homes that have become, shall we say, a wee bit played out, you are probably not alone. Yet a trip to the Oakland Museum to see their temporary exhibit on Eames – that is, Charles and Ray Eames – might make you rethink writing Eames off as just another overpriced and coveted chair. The exhibit takes a compelling and playfully cacophonous look at the breadth of the work of the Eames duo – a body of work that encompassed so much more than chairs and whose mission was, at the end of the day, to make furniture and information and design available to the masses in an age of mass production. Additionally, the exhibit makes it very clear that contrary to what many had thought before, this was not a one-man show. Ray, Charles’s wife, was just as integral to the work as he was, as were their staff who populated their circus-like, delirious studio on Washington Boulevard in Venice, Los Angeles. Long story short: Go!
While we’ve been working with Place It! Interactive Planning for some time, we are now launching a new set of workshops with a specific landscape focus. Through these interactive model-building workshops, participants are able to explore memory and ideas of place and belonging. From there, participants work to build what they would like to see in a landscape, all the while trying to infuse those memories of place and belonging into their designs. The result is design recommendations for design teams and municipalities that not only have greater depth than what would come out of a conventional outreach process (re: merely asking people what they want) but also are the result of a more inclusive and welcoming process, as in these workshops there is no right answer, and everyone has a chance to share, not just the most vocal of the crowd.
Imagine if human pregnancy also involved and required custom-building a house for the newborn babies – and not with the help of a contractor or designer, but on your own, with your own hands and with your own gathered materials. This is in essence what a hummingbird does in anticipation of the arrival of its young; every mother hummingbird is her own architect. Check out the video and marvel for yourself, as it is something to marvel over. Happy viewing.
We like to think of how bug hotels might become contemporary artifacts. If many generations from now someone came upon this structure, in the middle of a clearing – or perhaps amidst woods, if we know anything about plant succession – it would be in some state of decay, with plants growing within and out of it, and they would have to deduce what it meant and what it was for. If they did their sleuthing well, they would surmise that despite a propensity for humans at that time to work against the forces of nature, there were perhaps a small few who in their own odd and idealistic ways tried to push the tide in the other direction, and so they created these structures, to house the little critters being crowded out by so many greater forces. Or perhaps by that time these critters had won, and thus this bug hotel was only a remnant, a thing they no longer needed, as the world had once again become theirs?
To see the Flickr photo album of the event and its goings-on, click here.