An Interview With A Geographer At-Large; Eames Demetrios

I am facinated by the designs of Charles and Ray Eames, who don’t?! They are so timeless, well designed, detailed perfectly, comfortable always…

So when i had heard there is going to be an exhibition by Vitra international, celebrating the 100. Birthday of Eames in Mozaik- Istanbul, i was so excited. Besides i had a chance to meet and interview with the grandson of Charles and Ray Eames,Eames Demetrios! I am always a little bit nervous about writing too long articles in my blog posts without having many images. But this time i am going to take the risk, because i know that it is going to be read at ones. So here is the interview with Eames Demetrios, the director of Eames office, artist, filmmaker, also a writer writing travel guides to the parallel world;

We know that you are, as the director of Eames Office, spearheading the successful re-discovery of the Charles and Ray Eames design heritage by new generations. Preserving and extending the works of Charles and Ray Eames… So what is the philosophy behind Eames furnitures?

Besides their beautiful look, designs of Charles and Ray Eames are also beautiful with the ideas beyond them. Charles used to say that; the role of the designer is basicly that of a good host anticipating the needs of his guest. On this guest-host relationship, you are actually not making it about yourself, but about all the people guest in your chair. So when you sit on a Eames chair, you are Charles guest. And if you think about it, it’s a very universal idea. Every culture has a tradition of being a good hoster. For example, in Sanskrit, there is a saying as”Guest is God”.

So my job at Eames office to make sure that you have the experience that Charles Ray has intended. For them, the design was an important element of life quality and a significant piece of life. Design is about problem-solving. Charles and Ray Eames considered the design not as an aesthetic, but as a system and a process with a problem solving technique on which they used both the feeling of discipline and game. They tried every single material, forcing the limits of the materials. They produced dozens of prototypes to achieve the perfect design. Unfortunately, these days, especially in the media, when people say“design,” they mean“style.” Now, there is nothing wrong with style, but it may not be the most valuable thing Design has to offer. Today, all around us is full of designs with a style but away from functionality. Charles used to say that;“The extend that you have a style, is the extend that you have not solve the design problem”. It doesn’t mean that the estetics can’t be a part of the solving problem. It still can be beautiful, in fact it needs to be beautiful to solve the problem.

If your grandparents Charles and Ray Eames would be alive, in which way their designs would be different, you think?

I think that if they were alive today, they would know that the world has still a lot of problems. And they would focus on solving these problems. And if they think that furniture is becoming a problem in the terms of sustainability, they might have nothing to do with the furniture. They saw an opportunity to play with plywood, wire, and with plastic to produce low cost quality chair that would be comfortable. The best for the most to the least… They would see that there are other challenges addressed today.

I think, design will go back to having constraints that it has to work againist. Charles ones said that the problem with plastic is that you can do anything with it. There is no constraint. Its not making you do anything. When you design a chair out of the stone, you are stucked with the stone. It challenges you more. I think that sustainability will save the design.“Beyond the age of information is the age of choices.” Said Charles in 1971. And i really think that’s where we are now. The problem is not that we don’t know enough!

Who is your favourite designer of today?

There are really a lot of good ones. There is a company calledEmeco. A lot of interesting things are happening with Emeco. I made a couple of movies for them. Even though the company is runned by one person, he has a very strong sensibility and he collaborates with many different designers.

How do you define yourself and how did your grandparents inspried you or your life?

I consider myself a filmmaker, artist, writer. The best way to describe it really is just to say I wear a lot of different hats.

I am passionate about holistic vision of design; Design is a life skill not a professional skill. That’s what they gave me.

I didn’t have any plan to take care of Eames office or their work at all. When my grandparents died suddenly i realized that if anybody doesn’t take care, the things we care about would go away. We think about them now being very famous. But success was not for sure. For the first 10 years of their work together they had no success, it was very incremental. For a long time they barely made money. Still, they trusted that they were on the right track. They pushed themselves very hard. Now we look back, they were very succesfull off course… I find that very inspring to push in a direction of a dream or an idea without worrying if it was done before and focus on whether it can be done well.

And i think thats what i am trying to do with Kcymaextria project. Its a little bit crazy… I believe it’s a need for people. I am doing it because it’s beautiful but it also helps the community.

What is Kcymaexthaere?

Kcymaexthaereis a global work of 3 dimensional story telling. It’s a story told in a physical way. I have created an alternative universe. As Geographer-at-Large, I go around the world installing markers and historical sites that celebrate and honor events from parallel world in our linear world. Each culture has its own history. So far, we have 75 sites and 13 countries. We don’t have any plaques installed here in Turkey, but i think we are gonna solve this out.

Then he is telling me about the stories he wrote and afterwards going to Africa, telling the stories to the women there. And shows me the beautiful embroderies -each one is different- that the women made of the same story. He makes travel guides for his stories. Makes you go there, see the plaques and live in his story.“And because you are standing there, it’s very real. The heat is in your face, the wind is in your hair, the lizards are walking around… It’s very real even though you know maybe its not possible.” He says…

I can imagine the same with the anatolian women here and I am looking forward to see them here for their next project… And i am convinced that he is the grandson of Charles and Ray Eames. Just as I expected him to be…

For the last; You can watch the video prepared forTED. The talk in Istanbul was quite the same…

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