A few years ago, I was in India at a school in a small village called Sakad, in the tribal areas of Madhya Pradesh about 450 km from Mumbai. I was lucky to be there-- to have persuaded their teacher to let me come and tell stories about and from an alternative universe I have created: Kcymaerxthaere. I call it 3 dimensional fiction. A key component is the roughly 89 physical sites in 19 countries planet-wide so far, honoring events from the parallel world in our linear world.
Anyway, I had wanted to expand on an idea I had tried with other audiences. So I asked the kids to draw the things I was telling them about (I had translated my story into Hindi) and together we created a mural based on the stories from the world. Then we poured and decorated 5 concrete slabs that marked the five vertices of the famous tower in the story--the Eqlmundi Kirwela of Culev Larsze. It was magic. They loved it. I loved it. And now they are part of this fabric stretching around the world. In fact, the shape of the 5 sided slabs echoed ones recently installed in northern Austria. And another part of that particular story is going into southern Chile--and that is only one of many interwoven stories.
Just three days later I was in Ahmedabad, India, giving a talk to the students at India's National Institute of Design, initiated by my grandparents, the designers Charles and Ray Eames, in 1958 (we were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the school, which still thrives).
It was an interesting juxtaposition because it sort of captured a certain multivalence in my life. I think we all have a responsibility to our heritage, which is not exactly us, but is part of us, and to our own present and future, which is us, but not only us. So I have pursued a path with many spokes you might say.
I spend time being sure the Eames designs are done right, but, just as important, conveying the beauty of the ideas behind them. The Eames Office, where I am the director, communicates, preserves and extends the Eameses work. This has evolved into many products and partnerships. When we were growing up, my siblings and I learned about design backwards. In other words, we learned what we now know to be design principles and ideas without anyone calling them that by name.
On that point, I am often asked if I always planned to take a role in the Eames legacy. I never gave that path a thought. But as often happens, events take their own path. When my grandmother, with whom I was very close, died, I realized that if we didn't pay attention, things we cared about would slowly drift away. Now the design process itself is a passion of mine. My book, An Eames Primer, is taught in many schools. I have given lectures around the world (including the legendary TED Mainstage) and consult frequently with companies--hoping to persuade them to surrender to their design journey.
On another front, just call me an Exponent of Scale. We've recently finished a DVD called Scale is the New Geography. It includes 10 films. The most important is A Few Tools for Teaching Scale. It walks teachers (broadly construed) through a powerful way of using the classic film Powers of Ten. Their students create their own journey in scale: from the quark to the edge of space. Scale is a key way to organize understanding and experience, and being a good citizen will require it more and more. A few years back, we did a related museum exhibition that traveled around the world--including the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco and the Gulbenkian Institute in Lisbon.
Beyond that, I am a filmmaker--have been forever, professionally since college--loving the process of sharing stories and experiences with people. Some films have specific clients, others not. With clients, I really enjoy helping people understand their own stories better. About 50 films/videos of various lengths. Mostly shorts and documentaries, but not exclusively. Plywood elephants, Frank Gehry and Federico Garcia-Lorca are recent topics, but I have done some features too.
Now back to the beginning. My current large-scale project, Kcymaerxthaere, has been underway for several years. It is kind of like writing a novel and putting every page in a different place. People often ask me if it is virtual. Well, mainly in the sense that language inherently can be. But you can literally, physically visit parts of it. And, though it is visceral, it is also about the space between. Visit these places and experience those words (& forms & images) and it starts to transform your assumptions about seeing and possibilities in the deepest sense--it's also a lot of fun and, I hope, a good story.
There are writings (even a travel guide), video, performances, images, installation, bus tours and more. We did a run last summer at the Edinburgh Fringe. As of October 2009, there are about 65 sites around the planet and another 4 planned by the end of the year. You can visit us on line--a more international version of the site launches in November--but I really hope you visit some of the markers and pHistoric Sites in person.
That about wraps it up. I am Chairman of the Eames Foundation which focuses on the preservation of the Eames House. I have written a few books and given talks in 39 countries so far: topics ranging from design to science, from sustainability to my own work.
I grew up in San Francisco then went away to college, getting a BA from Harvard. Then I moved back to California-- to Los Angeles--to work in the movie business. Worked as an editor, cameraman and soundman for a few years as I started making my own films.
And today, as the expression goes, I live in southern California with my wife and two kids.