Monday, February 22, 2010

From the Archives: The Eames House

(Originally posted on 3/22/2009)

In addition to creating some of the most iconic furniture designs of the 20th Century, husband and wife Charles Eames (1907-1978) and Ray Eames (1912-1988) built a lovely modern house and studio in Pacific Palisades as part of the influential Case Study Program. Through the Los Angeles-based program, which ran from 1945 to 1966, Arts & Architecture magazine commissioned top architects to design and build inexpensive and efficient modern houses that could serve as models for the post-WWII housing boom.

After building the Pacific Palisades house for the Case Study Program, the Eameses resided in the house from its completion in 1949 to their deaths in 1978 and 1988. The Eames House is one of the Case Study Program's most popular houses and has even been replicated in miniature out of chocolate.

The house was constructed out of pre-fabricated, industrial materials and the Mondrian-inspired exterior is composed of white and primary colored panels of varying sizes outlined by black steel beams:

Twisting bark on a row of large, fragrant eucalyptus trees in front of the house provides an interesting textural contrast with the glass and steel of the structure's exterior:

The two buildings and their adjoining patios are set against an 8-foot high, 200-foot long retaining wall which abuts the hill on one side of a small meadow. The far edge of the meadow ends on a bluff with views over the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Bay.

A view of the house from the top of the retaining wall:

A view from the studio over the little meadow toward the ocean:

The grounds of the Eames House are open to visitors who call in advance to schedule an appointment. The interior of the house is not open to the public, but the living room, kitchen, and dining area are visible from outside through the glass doors and windows. The living room, with its high ceiling, warm rugs, tropical plants, and tall book shelves, is unusually livable and comfy for a modernist house. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to take interior photos. Here is the living room from the outside:

The side of the living room as viewed from one of the patios:

A few blocks away from the Eames House, modern treehouse-style homes are perched above little creeks running through the narrow, lush Santa Monica Canyon. Kappe House, built in 1968 on Brooktree Road by architect Raymond Kappe, is the most well-known of these treehouse residences. From the road, the Kappe House appears to be floating above the canyon. Wooden terraces jut out from the house and blend in with the treetops and a creek runs underneath the house on wide, rocky boulders.

Unfortunately, my photos do a poor job of capturing the charm of the Kappe House:

While Kappe's name is not well known among the general population, architects and designers love his houses and the L.A. Times ranked the Kappe House as number 8 on its 2008 list of the best Los Angeles Houses of all time. Also on the L.A. Times list were several other houses that I have visited including the Eames House (#4), the Gamble House (#6), the Ennis House (#3), Hollyhock House (#10), and the Schindler House (#1).

Another view of the Kappe House from the street:

Here is a map with the locations of the Eames House and Kappe House:

View Larger Map


  1. Very nice shots and good comments. I would be glad to visit these houses in my next trip to L.A. Are you an architect?

  2. Thank you for your comment. Actually, I am not an architect - I am a public interest lawyer now, but my background is in art history.

  3. I like it ~Thank You