Charles Eames on Design: Rare and Wonderful Q&A from 1972
A lucid reflection on the role and culture of design by one of the most iconic and influential designers of all time.
By Maria Popova
Legendary design duo Charles and Ray Eames shaped the mid-century modern aesthetic and influenced the voice of design for decades to come. They were also prolific filmmakers, perhaps best known for the iconic Powers of Ten film. In this fantastic Q&A from 1972, found on the excellent compilation The Films of Charles & Ray Eames and reproduced here in House Industries’ typography journal, Madame L’Amic of the Musee des Art s Decoratifs in Paris asks Charles Eames 29 questions about design, covering everything from the balance between form and function to the role of computers in creativity to the impact of influences. His answers are a timeless treasure trove of wisdom and insight on all that design is and should be.
I’m particularly taken with this bit affirming remix culture and combinatorial creativity:
[Is design] a creation of an individual?
No — because to be realistic one must always admit the influence of those who have gone before.
You can also listen to the full audio of the interview in this Japanese video of questionable legality:
And for the ultimate Eames fan, see Ph.D. student Kevin Mackice replicate the interview with his young son Carter to an amusing, refreshing, and surprisingly philosophical effect:
The entire collection The Films of Charles & Ray Eames is an absolute gem — I highly recommend it.
Published October 3, 2011