I’ve never been one to develop deep, romantic celebrity crushes—those powerful fantasies often ending in soul-crushing defeat when you realize that the famous apple of your eye is unavailable. Or worse, dead. 7-year-old me is looking at you, Judy Garland.
But I’m in love, so in love. With Charles and Ray Eames. Both of them. As one unit.
I should have seen this coming. A love of every single gorgeous iteration of the shell chair is bound to eventually give way to a broader fascination and respect for their work. I honestly don’t believe there exists a single thing designed by their hands that I don’t love. They were the most brilliant and prolific American designers for 50 some-odd years, and as far as I’m concerned, they still are. Hands down.
But with a great love of their work came a love of the people themselves, and I think their creative output just speaks so nicely to who I imagine them to be as individuals. They’re brilliant, obviously, but they also seem incredibly kind. And fun. Hardworking and a bit silly. Both charming and modest. People who valued their privacy but were generous enough to share their perspective with a world that benefitted from it, knowingly or not.
It was a couple months ago that I discovered their films and started watching them in the NYU library, sitting for an afternoon in front of a little TV on the second floor of Bobst for an afternoon and just working my way through a couple disks every now and again. I knew about the “Powers of Ten,” having seen it a few times in assorted places, but did you know they made roughly 85 films throughout their careers? Some have to do with their designs. Some are historical and informative. Some are just incredibly beautiful little snippets of the world, made ripe for our own appreciation through the added value of theirs.
Much like their furniture, architecture, or toys, the films are at once technically complicated and visually simple. They’re so much fun. Give this mesmerizing snippet a go:
I’ll stop now, since it’s probably better not to even get me started talking about those two. The point is, I love them and I can’t really hide it. My lovely mommy took note of this fact and gifted accordingly when my birthday rolled around a couple months ago. So guess who owns the Eames films box-set? ME, that’s who. Who’s up for a screening party? I make amazing hors d’oeuvres and you can utilize as many “party enhancers” as you’re comfy with, I ain’t here to judge.
And as if that weren’t supercool enough, my loving parents just went and outdid themselves.
The Hang-It-All, designed in 1953, is just one of those things. There aren’t many objects in the world that I consider pleasantly ubiquitous, but that’s sort of how I feel about the Hang-It-All. It’s popular for good reason, like gangster rap or bacon. So I kind of love seeing it everywhere, in all its equal-parts-beautiful-and-quirky glory. For guests it bids a warm, inviting welcome; and after a long day of classes last week, when temperatures dropped down to the mid-it’s-fucking-colds, it was the best place I’ve ever hung my coat and scarf. I just find it overwhelmingly cheerful, and I think that’s what I like about Charles and Ray, too. They—the designs and the people—just put a smile on my face.
Which is just a roundabout way of saying that stuff really does buy happiness. Maybe not, like, constant and eternal joy, but at least moments. I like that about things.
Note: the closely cropped photo of the Hang-It-All is for your own protection, so as not to ruin any mysterious upcoming posts about other new things in the kitchen. Wider angles coming up soon!