There is something so beautiful, fascinating, and simplistic about the mathematics of “mod”. Where better to start a fascination than with American Design in the 1940’s and 50’s? As a young American architect, I have defined my tastes through a time tested love for designs produced during my grandparents’ generation. Having been born into a working class family who had strong blue collar values and lifestyle, I am not surprised that the industrial simplicity of Charles and Ray Eames’ designs have had a major influence on my architectural style and creative philosophy. The following are several contributions made by this infamous duo that have inspired my career as well as American design creative at large.
Lets start with the original inspiration for this article: Mathematica. The new science wing at the California Museum of Science and Industry in Los Angeles opened in March of 1961. IBM, having been asked to make a contribution to the exhibition, commissioned the California design team of Charles Eames and wife Ray Eames to submit a proposal. The result was an interactive exhibition called “Mathematica: a world of numbers…and beyond.” The 3,000 s.f. exhibition was the first of many designed by the Eames duo. It is also only one of their many exhibitions that have survived since that time period. If you would like to see the original Mathematica Exhibition, it can be viewed in all its mathematical glory at the New York Hall of Science.
Mathematica was intended to, and in my mind does, demonstrate the versatility of mathematics through theory, imagery and historic reference. It also seems to be the first interactive exhibition to seamlessly integrate well-designed graphics and typography to give visitors an artistic insight into the science behind mathematical discovery. The most fascinating thing about this exhibition is that it clearly illustrates the mathematics of physical space and seems to have become the basis of pattern recognition. Imagine how many of us would have been more interested in Math if it had been taught through images, patterns, and beautifully set type. Ahhhh… a geeks wet dream.