In Memoriam

Extract from Tribute to Charles Eames

  Pupul Jayakar

. . . Unique Document

of the visit came the Eames report, a document familiar to most
students of design in this country, unique in its insight, its demands
for quality and the depth and width of its thinking. Commencing the
report with the famous phrases of the
‘On man’s right to work but never to the fruits thereof’, the report
sees the ‘change in India, a change in kind and not a change of
degree’. Seeing the complexities of the revolution in communications
that had struck India with terrific impact, ‘made more violent because
of the nature of India’s own complex situation, isolation and
tradition’, the report focuses on India’s tradition and a philosophy
that is familiar with the meaning of creative destruction and stresses
the need to appraise and solve the problems of our times with
tremendous service, dignity, and love’. ‘The search for form demands an
investigation into values and qualities that Indians hold important to
a good life’, and that ‘there be close scrutiny of those elements that
make up a standard of living’. The report goes on to urge ‘a restudy of
environment and skill and to think anew on detailed problems of
services and objects. To restate solutions in theory and actual
prototype’, and ‘to explore the existing symbols of India’.

preliminary report was that of a creative genius and philosopher who
had delved deep to discover and pinpoint the crises in the field of
form, function, and a way of life. The detailed notes that followed it
spelled out the technological hardware necessary to build the workshops
that formed the integral structure of the institute and provided
facilities for training research and service in the field of design, in
its widest sense. The National Institute of Design was born. . . .

the years, Charles and Ray continued to visit India to meet old friends
and to visit the National Institute of Design. I was in the USA and
Canada, in July and August of 1978, and had spoken to Ray on the phone.
Charles was away, but we had planned to meet before I returned to
India. I lost contact with them as I had gone for a holiday into the
interior of Canada, but on my return to Toronto towards the end of
August, found messages awaiting me from Ray. It was on the phone that I
heard of Charles’ death.

Eames was a giant amongst the new educators of the environment.
Exponent of a new culture born of the vast technological and
communication explosions that were transforming the environment and
man’s life, in him we saw the culture’s mature flowering. His
compassion and depth of seeing enabled him to draw from the riches of
the past to provide the human dimension to his projects; with this
there was infinite concern with the practical and with detail, a
precision that made enormous demands on those who worked with him.

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