THE TURDUS MERULA OF CHARLES AND RAY EAMES
Posted on November 18, 2013 by Luisa Fazio
He surely can’t be “classidied” in any professional category. Charles Eames was everything: architect, inventor, designer, scientist, director, professor. An eclectic artist and a brilliant “creator.” In 1941, he married artist Ray Kaiser, becoming a single entity: “The Eames”. Everyone knows the legendary Eames Chairs. A tribute to their appearance, philosophy, look. They were beautiful, simple, practical, elegant, sophisticated, different. In addition to chairs, their house in Pacific Palisades, California, designed and built by them in 1948, was model of simplicity and diversity so much to become a typical image of textbooks. A Mecca for architects and designers from around the world. But looking at its interior we discover a blackbird, a Turdus merula. For more than 50 years it has found its ideal habitat in the living room of the Eames. It is a piece of American folk art, a rare and precious artifact very dear to the Eames. A souvenir from the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern United States (The handicraft product was created by Charles Perdew in 1910 which left his “normal” job to devote himself full-time sculpturing birds, especially using pine). It’s a part of their crowded interior collections of pieces brought back from their long travels and that has often peeped in their photo shoots. The sympathetic, long-tailed volatile, has become an icon of the 50’s American design, known as the Eames blackhouse bird. Not having a yellow beak it meant actually being a female blackbird! Like all the blackbirds it preferred dropping the migration and stop in the same area for both research of food and nesting. Disregarding the thick forests, choose a man-made habitat like the Eames living room. Lucky them to hear its fluting and melodious songs from dusk to dawn. I love it because it is not a caged bird. It’s free, being prudent and careful with its natural predators! Thought years, the blackbird has also become glamorous. The creative duo has been a source of inspiration for many artists careers. An example? Mr. Ice Cube: rapper, actor, director, record producer, an eclectic man, just like the Eames. He never hid his interest for contemporary art and returned the favour by choosing the blackbird to rest on his shoulders to “celebrate the design and architecture of Charles and Ray Eames”, a project aimed to cheer creativity of Los Angeles (1945-1980). In collaboration with the Eames family, Vitra too, is “cloning” the original artifact by realizing this very elegant figure in black lacquered wood with alder.