January 26, 2008
Charles and Ray Eames are so famous - so iconic - that an entire era has been named after them, at least on eBay. And now there's a new postage stamp collection honoring them.
Eames US Postage Stamp- due to be issued next summer
I had the pleasure of meeting Charles, but not Ray, Eames in the late sixties at a conference at the Aspen Institute in Aspen, Colorado. My parents dragged me along that summer, hoping, I suppose, to enjoy some time with their still somewhat rebellious teenager. One evening Charles screened a film he and Ray had made -The Powers Of Ten. This was the first version. Nine years later they released a second version.
You can see the second version on youTube.
That evening, Eames took questions from the audience. I had sat spellbound throughout the film. It probably wasn't too easy to capture my imagination that summer, but this film took my breath away. Apparently I managed to ask an intelligent question, because he sought me out after the film. I was with my parents - it was all on the up and up.
After Aspen, my parents and I traveled to Los Angeles where we met up once again with Charles -but not Ray - Eames, to discuss schools, and the design of schools, with someone else who had been at the Aspen Conference. I apologize for my hazy memory here, I don't remember who this other guy was or anything that was said.
Ray and Charles Eames, photo by George Platt Lynes
Later that year I started working full time at the Pacifica Radio station WBAI-FM in New York City, and was producing their live performance series, The Free Music Store. I scheduled a screening of The Powers of Ten to coincide with an Eames visit to NYC. He was designing a huge exhibit at the time, I think at IBM.
For some reason, I decided to screen early Betty Boop cartoons with The Powers of Ten. For some reason, Charles thought this was a great idea. Remember, this was way before VCRs or DVD, and Betty Boop was not seen often on TV or anywhere else.
Amy Crehore loves Betty, too. Check out her blog
Charles and I spent part of the afternoon together while he showed me the exhibit he was putting together. Later in the evening, I picked him up at his hotel and we went over to the hall we'd rented. This was before WBAI started having concerts in the renovated church we later used for studios, offices and productions.
We screened the film to a packed audience. Charles spoke and answered questions. After the screening, we parted, and I never saw him again.
Almost forty years later, it still amazes me that this design genius was kind enough, interested enough, and open enough, to appreciate the ideas of a nineteen year old just beginning to make her way in the world as an adult. He never condescended to me. On the contrary, he took me and my ideas seriously. What better way could there be for a young person to enter into the grown up world of design and information.
My deepest thanks and yes, love, to Charles Eames.
Go buy some stamps! (when they're issued, that is.)