Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Origins of Serious Play

I ran into documentary filmmaker Eames Demetrios in the hallway and we talked about how difficult it's going to be for him to decide what to show in his upcoming presentation. Eames is the grandson of Charles Eames, and has a lifetime of knowledge about the work of Charles and Ray Eames. We both were saying that at every design conference we attend, during half the presentations we're reminded of something the Eames Office did back in the day. And when it comes to Serious Play, the Eameses invented it. Well, it will be interesting to see what he decides to show. Will it be his film, A Gathering of Elephants? Part of the Eameses' Powers of Ten? We talked about a clip of Demetrios' own documentary, 901: After 45 Years of Working, that shows the dismantling of the Eames Office after Ray's passing. There were towers made with xylophone keys that play tunes as a ball falls downward through them. We talked about what Stuart Brown said about the connection between play and the ability to problem solve. The essential aspect of play is a lack of an ulterior motive—if you've got a purpose in sight, you don't have play. One of the first tasks a new hire at the Eames Office might be given was to rearrange the keys in the xylophone towers to create a new tune. They took their play seriously. 

No comments: