Q: “What is your definition of ‘Design,’ Monsieur Eames?
“One could describe Design as a plan for arranging elements to accomplish a particular purpose.”
Q: “Is Design an expression of art?”
“I would rather say it’s an expression of purpose. It may, if it is good enough, later be judged as art.”
Q: “Is Design a craft for industrial purposes?”
“No, but Design may be a solution to some industrial problems.”
Q: “What are the boundaries of Design?”
“What are the boundaries of problems?”
Q: “Is Design a discipline that concerns itself with only one part of the environment?”
Q: “Is it a method of general expression?”
“No. It is a method of action.”
Q: “Is Design a creation of an individual?”
“No, because to be realistic, one must always recognize the influence of those that have gone before.”
“Design Q & A.” Questions by Mme. L. Amic. Answers by Charles Eames.
For the exhibition “Qu’est ce que le design?” (or What is Design?) Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais de Louvre.
To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, I may be no Charles Eames but Eames’s definition of design is so clear and open that it has informed how I have approached my work throughout my career. A house, an auditorium, an office, a chair, a typeface, a trellis or a door are all responses to ‘problems’. Learning the nature of the problem, the constraints on implementation and the history of past solutions are part of the process leading to new designs.
I’ve approached designing doors, windows, stairs, fireplaces, furniture, floor plans, systems and entire buildings much the same way. In this section labeled ‘Craft’ I have gathered all the smaller projects and designs that continue to interest me. I have also moved into fabrication of some of these elements. Doors and windows are amazing and complex things…when you have to build them yourself. A fireplace can be a hole in a wall or a center of a home. Furniture is a universe. Each design responds to the context and situation at hand. I do not have a signature style that informs my work.
As part of my fascination with design problems I have studied Landscape Design, Furniture Design, Lighting Design, Energy and Sustainable Design, Typography, Book Binding, Calligraphy, Letterpress and handset type, Woodworking, Metal Smithing, and Architecture. It’s all the same process.