It Really Isn’t Easy Being Green…

12 Feb

MilkWeed:  The Eames – Alive and Well and Green

MilkWeed: The Eames   Alive and Well and Green

(I wrote a post a while ago titled ‘It’s not easy being green’ about the green walls we were painting in the family room. I love the layers in the word green. Besides it being my favorite color, I like that it also means nature, environmentalism, new, fresh, all of which aren’t easy to achieve in a home. It doesn’t help that I have a black thumb instead of a green one.  Especially since I want a green one so much. Which brings me to this post, courtesy of DesignMilk about greenery in the mid-century home ala the Eames.  Enjoy. -Brandy)

On my first academic trip to Los Angeles over ten years ago I visited the Eames House  in Pacific Palisades. Frozen in time, preserved in the way Ray Eames left it  upon her death in 1988, I peered through its steel framed windows to find it  standing still in design and time except for one thing: the plants.

Charles and Ray may no longer breathe life on  this earth, but their plants still do. The greenery is what made the rooms stay  alive, filled with moisture, fresh air and change. Without them, time would have  truly stood still; with the plants’ continuing presence in the place, change  slowly occurs each day — its long continual metamorphosis not seen until one  returns after a period of months, years. But they maintain; they live.

Lately the Eames have been the talk of the town getting credit and attention  well deserved, particularly because of their inclusion in the LACMA California Modern, 1930-1965: “Living in a Modern Way”show open now until June 3 and the recent documentary Eames: The Architect and The  Painter. The entire contents of their living room has been moved  temporarily to LACMA for the exhibition, giving their home some much-needed  downtime for preservation. All the wonderful knick knacks, the library, the rugs  and furniture have been cataloged and photographed and now can be observed in a  gallery, except for the plants. There are artificial replacements in the show  (and I’m not sure where the plants are right now — hopefully just vacationing  somewhere sunny,) but without their presence amongst the objects in the exhibit,  the home now feels expired.

MilkWeed: The Eames   Alive and Well and Green

The greenery in the Eames house is as integral as the glass, the wood  paneling, the paintings, and the objects Charles and Ray collected along side  them. Without it, the home’s straight industrial lines would terminate, cross,  divide in an unsettling way. Ray realized this too and so the home was filled  with greenery of varying scale.

MilkWeed: The Eames   Alive and Well and Green

Whether in a permanent gravel bed continually filled with plants in pots or  in the large dried tumbleweed collection that hung from the loft ceilings  (below), the plants were likely chosen for their broad need leaves and the  shadows that they made whether on the interior or on the translucent windows  visible from the exterior at night.

MilkWeed: The Eames   Alive and Well and Green

You can view the room without the greenery via the time-lapse of the room’s de- and re-construction at LACMA.  The plants were the first to leave and the last to be replaced. The room without  their inclusion is barren, cold and still. The large scale of the room and the  relatively small scale of its furniture seem at odds with each other. The  cracked and worn tile is more noticeable. The greenery makes the difference.

So whatever way you choose to incorporate green in your home, whether it’s  via ornate modernist pots, flea market finds, or via standard clay pots from  your nursery (they were good enough for the Eames), the Eames have shown that it  makes a home literally alive, lived-in, loved and balanced. Artificial just  doesn’t do it justice.

MilkWeed: The Eames   Alive and Well and Green

Top photo by Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times, all others by  Tim Street-Porter, Prints  and Photos Division.


One Response to “It Really Isn’t Easy Being Green…”

  1. Dana@Mid2Mod February 12, 2012 at 6:47 am #

    I so agree that plants add a dimension to a room that nothing else can. I have plants in almost every room of my house.

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