Office of Public Engagement

Eames Design Event

Last Friday, architecture and design students from all across the country, as well as energy policy and sustainable design specialists, gathered at the White House for a screening and panel discussion of Jason Cohn and Bill Jersey’s documentary film: Charles and Ray Eames: The Architect and the Painter.  The film was funded in part by The National Endowment for the Humanities.

The event explored the Eames’ influence on modern and sustainable design. It was hosted in partnership with the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS)’s Grass Roots Leadership Conference. 

This film, which aired nationally on PBS in 2011, looks at the many design advances of the married duo, from exhibitions like Mathematica to company brands like Boeing and IBM.  Along with their design success, the film pays special attention to their professional and personal relationship.

After our screening of this documentary, the NEH hosted a panel featuring the University of Maryland’s WaterShed team leaders Leah Davies and Allison Wilson, winners of the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon competition, and Michelle Kaufmann, innovative designer and award winning architect.  Their discussion was moderated by filmmaker Jason Cohn.  The panelists engaged the audience in a discussion of current trends in sustainability, urban renewal and affordable design.

Fashion can imply a fleeting moment in time, but as this new century has commenced it appears that Charles and Ray Eames’s modernist designs have multi-generational appeal.  In the pantheon of design they have carved out a venerated niche.

The NEH is honored to play a role in helping facilitate this film in its exceptional exploration of one of the most influential and creative partnerships of the 20th Century.

Jim Leach is the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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