Just announced: The opening of the Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity, a combination museum/learning center "that aims to bring the lessons of Ray and Charles Eames to those looking to solve today's most challenging issues," the organization writes.
Curated by archivist Llisa Demetrios (pictured above; Ray and Charles were her grandparents), the new nonprofit is tucked away on Eames Ranch, a working farm in Petaluma, California. The facilities, which include a wood and metal shop, will host exhibitions, live events and programming, and they've already got some fantastic online content on their site (scroll down for a description/links).
"The Institute will demonstrate the Eameses' iterative process, deep well of curiosity, and love of discovery through a vast array of ephemera from the couple's work and personal archives."
"Containing tens of thousands of objects ranging from handmade prototypes and furniture components, to exhibit elements and folk art from around the globe, the Eames Collection is a one-of-a-kind record of their extraordinary partnership. Drawn from the Eameses' legendary workplace at 901 Washington Boulevard in Venice, California, and acquired from the Eames family in 2019, this vast collection is being cataloged, conserved, photographed, and made widely available to the public for the first time."
Thus far they've got two design-related exhibits online: "Plywood During the War," which covers the Eameses foray into bent plywood (and goes into more detail about the "Kazam! Machine"), and "Form Follows Formulation," which tells the rollercoaster story of the 12-year journey the Eameses undertook to arrive at their game-changing glass fiber reinforced plastic chair shells.
Both of those links are well worth the click and, importantly, cover how the Eameses frequently encountered failure in the studio, but never gave up and kept plugging away until they found success. As one example of a manufacturing challenge they faced:
"When securing the use of hydraulic presses at UCLA proved troublesome, the Eames Office set about producing the steel and aluminum [chair] prototypes in their Venice, California, shop using a drop hammer. However, the technique was anything but elegant (it consisted of dropping a 250-pound weight onto an aluminum or steel sheet sandwiched between two plaster molds) or effective (the molds usually broke after about three uses and it took around four drops to successfully mold each shape)."
So how did they solve it? I won't spoil it; read about it here.