The Eames House, located in Los Angeles and designed by Charles and Ray Eames as their own home in 1949, is an icon of modernist architecture and one of the most famous buildings in the world. While its facade—an utterly satisfying composition of geometry and color—and dreamy midcentury interior are widely admired, the magic of the residence goes beyond the structure itself.
Any visitor to the house will immediately notice the property’s more than 200 eucalyptus trees, which are as intimately intertwined with the Eames House experience as it gets. In fact, an initial proposal to build a house across the site was abandoned after the Eameses fell in love with the landscape. They proceeded to design the Eames House as we know it, and avoided destroying the trees and the meadow.
The trees also create a multisensory experience. Speaking with Curbed, Lucia Dewey Atwood, a granddaughter of the Eameses and director of the Eames Foundation’s conservation project, recalled seeing Ray come out of the car, inhaling the eucalyptus scent, and just “sparkle”. And now, with the foundation’s latest initiative, design fans can capture a bit of that bliss for themselves.
As part of its ongoing conservation project, the Eames Foundation recently harvested two eucalyptus trees on site. And in true Eames fashion, it got creative and resourceful with the material.
In partnership with Herman Miller and Vitra, the only producers of original Eames furniture, the foundation just launched the Eucalyptus LTR Table, a special edition of the Eames Low Table Rod Base (LTR) originally designed in 1950. Each piece in the limited run (fewer than 600 were made) features a surface sourced from one of the two felled trees, marked below in the bird’s-eye view site illustration (which will be sent with each purchase so buyers can identify the tree that contributed to their table).
Incorporating the same welded wire rod technique found in some of the most popular Eames designs (e.g. Eames Shell Chairs with wire bases and Eames Storage Units), LTR tables can be found all over the Eames House, sometimes as plant stands, other times used to entertain. Take, for example, the time the Eameses hosted the likes of Isamu Noguchi and Charlie Chaplin for a Japanese tea ceremony conducted on a few of the low tables—which Dewey Atwood pointed out as proof of the design’s small space-friendly nature.
At 10 inches high with a 15.5-inch by 13.25-inch surface area, the piece is compact, portable, and therefore, versatile. The inherently modular form can be stacked to become shelving or grouped together to make a larger coffee table.
The original low tables, priced at $235 and available in several top and base finishes, are some of the lowest priced Eames furniture. The spendier limited edition Eucalyptus LTR is priced at $795 and available in the U.S. exclusively through Herman Miller. Herman Miller and Vitra have also donated a portion of tables to the Eames Foundation; sales from these pieces will go toward the long-term preservation of the Eames House property.
According to Dewey Atwood, about a dozen more trees on site need to come down in the coming years, so there could very well be more eucalyptus remixes of Eames classics in our future.