Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

Cooking with the Eameses

I love this kitchen. Everything has its place. Everyday supplies within reach. Coffee over the coffee pot. Can opener at the ready. This is a modernist’s dream, but also a housewife’s dream. This photograph is from a small, charming new book titled Eames + Valastro: Design in the Life of an American Family. In it, Eames collector and historian Daniel Ostroff interviews the sons of the owner and creator of that kitchen, Gladys Valastro. Their interview is the story of the nine pieces of Eames furniture that their parents bought in 1954, but more importantly, the story of living as with design as a middle-class American family. Turning a fiberglass rocker into a turtle. Surfing a molded plywood coffee table. Sleeping a baby in the drawer of an ESU. Once upon a time these pieces weren’t icons, and it is important to be reminded that they could take it. I see this book as part of a larger reconsideration of the Eameses, including the huge monograph of last winter (which I reviewed critically here), and the new documentary Eames: The Architect and the Painter (which Martin Filler reviewed critically here). I’ll definitely write about the film when I see it.