California’s Eames Institute Is Now Offering Tours of Its 40,000 Artifacts

The complete oeuvre of Ray and Charles Eames is awaiting your perusal in California.

The Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity just opened a new headquarters in the Bay Area in which it will display its vast design collection to the public for the first time.

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Launched in March 2022, the nonprofit aims to spotlight the design duo’s legacy via installations, digital media, and printed publications. It has held nine online exhibitions to date, but the new guided tours will allow design buffs to see the Eames Archives up close in person.

“It’s such a pleasure to expand the reach of the Eames Institute and further share the collection with even more people,” Llisa Demetrios, chief curator and granddaughter of Ray and Charles, said in a statement.

Located in Richmond, California, the newly refurbished space sees the Institute’s vast collection under one roof for the first time. (It holds more than 40,000 artifacts that run the gamut from products and tools to personal ephemera.) Most of the prized pieces came from the Eames Office at 901 Washington Boulevard in Venice, California. (The couple began working out of the Strathmore Apartments in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles before moving the office to “901” in 1943.)

The Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity's California Headquarters
The tours will be led by Charles and Ray’s granddaughter, Llisa Demetrios.

Led by Demetrios herself, the ticketed tour will offer insight into the industrial designers’ practice, with both mass-produced furniture and unique one-of-a-kind prototypes on display in the Richmond location. It will also provide an in-depth look at the couple’s lives, showcasing beloved personal items and private correspondence.

“The Eames Archives is so special to me because it holds the things my grandparents loved and cherished—it’s an absolute joy to finally be able to share these pieces in this way,” adds Demetrios.

Highlights include an airplane stabilizer from 1943 that Eameses developed for the U.S. Navy, a large-scale molded plywood sculpture, and a fake diploma artist Saul Steinberg created for Charles. (He studied architecture but never completed his degree.) Another standout is a prototype seat that was made using the Kazam! Machine. Built by the couple, this large wooden device used an inflatable rubber pouch to mold plywood into complex compound curves.

At the end of each tour, visitors can head to the gift shop to buy books, vintage items, and design objects inspired by the collection.

Kicking off on February 14, the tours will take place on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Priced at $85 a pop, tickets can be purchased through the Eames Institute’s website.

Click here to see all the photos of the headquarters and collection.

The Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity's California Headquarters
The Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity's California Headquarters

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