Headquarters for the Eames Institute (the full name of which is The Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity), established in honor of preserving and continuing the legacy of architect and designer Charles and wife Ray Eames, reside in a little known barn/gallery/home/studio complex in Northern California’s Sonoma Valley, The Eames Ranch.
The Eames Ranch in Petaluma
The Eames Ranch in Petaluma is presently closed to the public, but has been undergoing an extensive remodel to eventually make it accessible, much to the delight of Eames enthusiasts and mid-century modern design lovers worldwide. Dedicated to the Eameses’ curiosity, philosophies and beliefs, the barn-like structure embodies their aesthetics as well as holds their enormous collection of “stuff.”
The beautiful compound serves as the home base for the archival collection inherited from the Eames by Lucia Eames, Charles’ only daughter and Ray’s step-daughter. One of Lucia’s five children, daughter Llisa Demetrios, currently lives at the Ranch with her family and serves as its Chief Curator.
Lucia, a talented metal sculptor and graphic designer who passed away in 2014, ensured the preservation of the Eames legacy for future generations by establishing the Eames Foundation for its care.
Lucia’s artwork, once rarely known, has recently been seen in a wonderful collaboration with retailer Crate and Barrel and in her Seeing with the Heart exhibition during Salone del Mobile 2022 in Milan.
Lucia purchased the original Eames Ranch property in 1992 and hired architect William Turnbull to design the structures that would serve as a home base for the Eames family, the collection and the Eames Institute headquarters.
The “Sunburst Gate” at the Eames Ranch by Lucia Eames is one of her many beautiful metal gates on the property.
It was optimally placed to frame the sun (and moon) rise and features a range of what Lucia dubbed “Solar X-Rays”— motifs that were initially designed by Lucia in 1982 for the Peerless Electric Company in Berkeley, California.
A lot of the Eames objects and experiments once housed in their office building in Venice, CA (known by its address number as “901”) are now stored at the Eames Ranch.
The Ranch is a place of perpetual iteration and experimentation —where the Eameses’ lessons are put into practice with every passing season. Undergoing a multi-year renovation, the home and barn sit on a pastoral working farm with 30 sheep, a llama, and a garden.
Driven by the Eames’ holistic notion that “eventually everything connects”, the farm is focused on regenerative agriculture and habitat restoration, while harnessing new technologies to transition the property to net zero carbon and water use.
Outfitted with a metal shop and wood shop, the Eames Ranch models a hands-on approach to problem-solving, where design becomes a tool and the tools for designing are always within reach.
My goal as the chief curator at the Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity is to help recreate the world that existed outside of the frame. I am driven in this work to inspire others to learn from the way my grandparents approached their life and work so that they possibly might feel that sense of limitless potential that I got to experience firsthand and take it back and apply it in their own world. Ray and Charles didn’t believe in the notion of the gifted few—they believed that you got good at what you liked to do through practice, exploration, understanding, and effort. – Llisa Demetrios
The Eames Institute acknowledges the property currently identified as the Eames Ranch to be a part of the traditional territory of the Meleya and Amayelle tribes of the Coast Miwok people. We recognize that after thousands of years of peaceful habitation, these lands were unjustly and forcibly stolen and humbly aim to create a safe place that welcomes everyone in an atmosphere of trust and knowledge-sharing.
Though the Ranch is closed to the public during this process, the Eames Institute is committed to enacting their mission and sharing their collections through partner organizations and temporary installations in the interim.
all images and information courtesy of the Eames Institute