Brain Pickings

Charles Eames on Design: Rare and Wonderful Q&A from 1972

By:

A lucid reflection on the role and culture of design by one of the most iconic and influential designers of all time.

Legendary design duo Charles and Ray Eames shaped the mid-century modern aesthetic and influenced the voice of design for decades to come. They were also prolific filmmakers, perhaps best known for the iconic Powers of Ten film. In this fantastic Q&A from 1972, found on the excellent compilation The Films of Charles & Ray Eames and reproduced here in House Industries’ typography journal, Madame L’Amic of the Musee des Art s Decoratifs in Paris asks Charles Eames 29 questions about design, covering everything from the balance between form and function to the role of computers in creativity to the impact of influences. His answers are a timeless treasure trove of wisdom and insight on all that design is and should be.

I’m particularly taken with this bit affirming remix culture and combinatorial creativity:

[Is design] a creation of an individual?

No — because to be realistic one must always admit the influence of those who have gone before.

You can also listen to the full audio of the interview in this Japanese video of questionable legality:

And for the ultimate Eames fan, see Ph.D. student Kevin Mackice replicate the interview with his young son Carter to an amusing, refreshing, and surprisingly philosophical effect:

The entire collection The Films of Charles & Ray Eames is an absolute gem — I highly recommend it.

HT Ace Hotel Blog / @gary_hustwit

Donating = Loving

Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. If you find any joy and stimulation here, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner:





You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount:





Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.

People Who Became Nouns: The Music Video

By:

Boycott, Maverick, Guillotine, Shrapnel, Cardigan, Sandwich, Silhouette, Zeppelin, Leotard, Lamborghini.

Finding your name in the dictionary as a noun is a sure-fire litmus test for having made a impact on culture and history. Just look at OED-approved fine folks like Charles Boycott, Samuel Maverick, Joseph-Ignace Guillotine, Henry Shrapnel, and Lord Cardigan. But there are unsuspected downsides to being reduced to a noun — just ask suffragette and women’s rights pioneer Amelia Bloomer, now equated with a baggy pair of women’s underpants.

Now, thanks to NPR‘s Robert Krulwich and Adam Cole, there’s a delightful music video about them.

Semi-relatedly, this reminded me of a lovely illustrated children’s book called If You Were a Noun.

Donating = Loving

Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. If you find any joy and stimulation here, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner:





You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount:





Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.

A Map of Woman’s Heart: Appalling Victorian Gender Stereotypes, in Illustrated Cartography

By:

From coquetry to selfishness, or what the Sea of Wealth has to do with the City and District of Love.

Nineteenth-century ideals of womanhood and beauty expressed as much about women as they did about the society in which they were germinated. At a time of radical sociocultural and economic shifts — rapid urbanization, new modes of transportation and communication, increasing mechanization of industry — the expectations for women’s role in society shifted as well, with an idealized version of what was known as “True Womanhood” underpinning pop culture representations of women in everything from newspaper advice columns to art.

A Map of the Open Country of a Woman’s Heart was a map created by D. W. Kellogg circa 1833–1842, in the tradition of these maps of the human condition you might recall, subtitled “Exhibiting its internal communications, and the facilities and dangers to Travellers therein.” Though it mostly depicts Woman as a sentimental, selfish, and superficial being driven by vanity, it places Love at the center of her heart, with Good Sense, Patience, and Prudence at its tip — or bottom, depending on the interpretation.

For a fascinating look at the expectations of True Womanhood, marvel at Bernard O’Reilly’s 1883 classic The Mirror Of True Womanhood: A Book Of Instruction For Women In The World.

Donating = Loving

Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. If you find any joy and stimulation here, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.





You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount: