The Eames Black House Bird

So last Friday I wrote about the extraordinary¬†Eames Walnut Stool. And in putting that article together I spied this very sleek, elegant black bird in some of the images I sorted through. As I delved further, I learned that this bird has come to be known as the Eames Black House Bird. Okay, I’m sure you already knew that, but for me it was a moment of enlightenment… and so now I have to share! See, that’s the great thing about blogs… you learn and you share ūüôā

Here’s the exquisite creature that captured my eye.

 

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Isn’t he great?

All the research basically says the same thing. The black house bird was acquired by Charles and Ray Eames on their journey through the Appalachian mountain region of the eastern United States. They were known to spice up their collections with objects they discovered in their extensive travels, and the black house bird happened to be one of them.

The original black wooden bird, c. 1910, was created by Charles Perdew. Perdew had been the owner of a gun repair business, but turned it over to his son in 1930 and started to carve birds full time. He carved miniatures, half sizes and full sizes of all kinds of birds for decoys.

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Do you think this bird looks real?

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I wonder what the cat thinks!

The house bird became one of the most prized American folk art objects the Eames’ owned…

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And stood in the center of their famous Pacific Palisades living room for over fifty years.

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Doesn’t this authentic Mid-Century Modern room make your heart pound just a little bit faster? And there in the center is the famous bird, sitting up proud and tall.¬†He’s actually close to 11″ x 3.5″ x 11″, but I think he looks bigger than that, in spite of the open, soaring space of the Eames living room.

And in this space too.

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Maybe the stature of this object is symbolic of its¬†notoriety. The black house bird was not only a prized object in the Eames home, but it was also seen as an accessory in many of the Eames’ photographs. The bird became a trademark prop, most notably in the famous publicity photo for the Eames Wire Chairs.

 

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This image happens to be a 1952 original front cover¬†from an issue of ‘The Architectural Review‘!

Based on the original artifact and in cooperation with the Eames Family, Vitra is now producing the first series of this figure, which you can purchase for $210 US. And so… this is on my wish list of things to¬†save for and invest in! Funny how the wish list grows with each post ūüėČ

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The Eames’ house bird is made of solid alder with a black lacquer finish and steel wire legs, though¬†Perdew worked mainly in pine. But¬†he was also known for utilizing reclaimed timbers from old bridges, beams from empty buildings, or leftover wood from sash and door factories. ¬†If you were to come across a vintage (c. 1910) original of Perdew’s black house bird, it is apparently now worth an estimated $3650 US! So there’s investment, and then there’s INVESTMENT!

Especially when paired with a Wishbone chair!

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¬†But I can also see him in this setting here…

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Paired with these Eames Molded Plastic chairs here.

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So, how long have you known about the Eames Black House Bird? Do you have any stories to tell?

Where have I been?! ūüôā

Thanks for stopping by!

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Photograph source linked below each photograph.

Eames Walnut Stool

If you read my post yesterday, then you’ll know where the inspiration for this one came from!

Charles and Ray Eames…

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The dynamic husband and wife duo of design in the twentieth century. Their contributions to the creative world are abundant and varied, but it’s the Eames’ philosophy and outlook on the world that fed the legacy of their ‘look’. Think lean and modern, sleek, sophisticated, simple… think playful and functional. In their words, “the uncommon beauty of common things.” And their success? Developing products that met the overlapping needs of client, society, and designer (read more).

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¬†“You know what looks good can change, but what works works.”

-Ray Eames

And Ray’s design of the walnut stool is a testament to that statement.

In 1960, Ray Eames was asked to design occasional pieces for the lobby of the newly constructed Time-Life Building. At the time this was the tallest building in New York, and in keeping with the architectural phenomenon, Ray drew on her training as a sculptor to design an equally phenomenal occasional piece.

Working with several pieces of solid walnut, turned to create interesting shapes, laminated and pinned together, the walnut stool was born. At first glance they look like abstract chess pieces with the three unique sculptural shapes. But the timeless design is more than visual beauty. It is ultra functional too.

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Each stool stands 15″ h, and if you look closely you’ll see the surface is concave. If you turn the stool over, you’ll find the bottom is also shaped the same. The only difference, the top measures 13″ in diameter and the bottom measures 11″.

So not only can you use either end up, but these stools are versatile extraordinaire and can serve as low tables, display surfaces, or simply objects of art to be admired. Aren’t they exquisite?

I love this photo.

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Everything Eames, and the backdrop, perfect!

How about pairing the stool with the plywood chair?

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They go together like a wine pairing, don’t you think?

Gotta love the poodle.

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But it’s the craftsmanship of the stool that is breathtaking.

These vessels can bring any room to life in the sweep of an eye.

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How can you miss the incredible detail?

And there are times when three is just not a crowd…

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Apparently that’s how Ray felt too. The walnut stools became her favorite seats and were generously scattered throughout the Eames’ home.

Do you think one will do?

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Definitely. One will do.

I think this next little story says it all…

A museum curator once ordered two of these stools for his son and daughter. “Graduation gifts?” he was asked. “No,” he said, “the kids are only five and three. But I want them to have the experience of growing up with something truly good that they can keep all their lives.” (Source)

This is what it means to invest in things that will last… This is what Kelly Deck was talking about!

Are you tempted yet?

Thanks for stopping by!

Signature 100x47 b&wPhotograph source linked below each photograph.