The Eames and Billy Wilder | Jorge Gorostiza

Maqueta de la casa de Wilder proyectada por los Eames

I believe that it is not necessary to say those who were Billy Wilder, either Ray and Charles Eames (always it is in the habit of putting to Chat first probably for being a man). What probably is known less is the friendship that joined them for many years.

According to Tom Wood in his book The Bright Side of Billy Wilder translated in Spain as ¿Quién diantres eres Billy Wilder? (Laertes, Barcelona, 1990):

Wilder knows Eames and has admired his work since this one [the author and / or the Spanish translator of the book believes that Eames is one only architect], in the middle of the forties, created for him a chair of rosewood and leather. For many years furniture and paintings have been interchanged and, in an occasion, in 1948, Billy entrusted to Eames the design of a house. He bought an area in Beverly Hills to construct this house and finished so excited with the project that was in the habit of passing the weekends examining the design with the architect and bombarding it with suggestions“.

They were presented by the graphical designer Alvin Lusting who at the time was using the garage of Wilder’s house in North Beverly Drive as study. It seems to be that the Eames did the assembly of a sequence of The Spirit of St. Louis, 1957, also one tells him that during the filming of this movie Wilder it was resting, going to bed in banks and any place that he was finding and it requested him the architects who were designing a chaise longue not to have to look for an unexpected place where to rest, many years later, in 1968, they created an armchair as long as to be able descabezar a dream, but it reduces in order that this dream did not last a lot of time, apparently Wilder commented that two persons went to bed one it should be like Guiacometti’s sculpture.

Yes it is true that many years before Wilder entrusted them a house for him and his intelligent and beautiful wife, Audrey Young, who had been a singer of a big-band and appears fleetingly in The Lost Weekend, 1945. Wood writes on his wedding:

“Billy’s escape with Audrey, in 1949, revealed in him a romantic vein which existence few persons were suspecting. Accompanied by Eames and his wife, Wilder and miss Young travelled in car up to Nevada, where they could marry without respecting three preliminary days of wait. The original intention of the pair was to marry in the first city of Nevada to which they were coming. But Billy did not like the aspect of the first city. It insisted on finding a more appropriate site, and they continued travelling. Finally they came to a population to Billy’s taste. But before giving his I dress well to the celebration of the ceremony, Billy insisted on knowing the mayor of the city to make sure itself that was a respectable and homeloving man. The fortune wanted that the mayor was washing the plates of the food when the group of escaped met him. That one was the whole domestic detail and Billy bore the whole solemn ritual without doing not even an ingenious or sarcastic observation. After the ceremony, the group travelled up to the lake Tahoe. During all this part of the tour, Wilder was anormalmente silently”.

Wood writes on this house that

“Though Eames is considered to be one of the exponents most distinguished from the modern design, Billy was going so ahead of him in some of the ideas that Eames was ending annoyed. “What was impressing us was not both his audacity and the constant aim of his intentions”, he remembers Eames.”The house did not use as a pretext for unfoldings ingenuities; maybe his major contribution consisted of feeling where there were elements of evil I please in the plan that we had elaborated. “That house, which was going to look like a gigantic box of shoes, did not manage to be constructed. It had been designed for a bachelor and Wilder began to lose the project marrying before they were putting on the foundations”.

The house did not manage to be constructed, but the drawings and models (as the one that accompanies this text and others that can turns Architectural Digest) give an idea of the interesting thing that could have been.

Jorge Gorostiza, architect. Author of the blog Arquitectura+Cine+Ciudad

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, february 2014

Jorge Gorostiza

Doctor arquitecto, proyecta y construye edificios y desarrolla trabajos de urbanismo. Desde 1990, publica numerosos artículos sobre cine y arquitectura en medios de su localidad, revistas como Nosferatu, Nickleodeon, Academia, Lateral, Cahiers du Cinema… y en varios volúmenes colectivos. Entre el 2000 y el 2005 dirige la Filmoteca Canaria. Imparte conferencias sobre arquitectura y cine en instituciones como el CAAM en Gran Canaria, la UIMP, el CENDEAC en Murcia, INCUNA en Gijón, Fundación Telefónica, la ETS de Arquitectura y el CCCB de Barcelona, las ETS de Arquitectura de La Coruña, Sevilla, Valencia y SEU madrileña, La Ciudad de la Luz en Alicante, la UNED en Pamplona, en varios colegios de arquitectos, así como en las universidades del País Vasco, Gerona, Valladolid, Málaga, Granada, SEK en Segovia y CEES de Madrid. Jurado en varios festivales cinematográficos, como los de Alcalá de Henares (2001), San Sebastián (2002), Sitges (2003), Las Palmas (2005) y Documentamadrid (2005), y comisario de las exposiciones Constructores de quimeras. (Centro Conde Duque, Madrid, 1999) y La arquitectura de los sueños (Capilla del Oidor, Alcalá de Henares, 2001).

He publicado bastantes libros y muchos artículos, he impartido conferencias, he sido comisario de exposiciones y jurado en muchísmos festivales. Si quieren saber más no duden en consultar mi blog ARQUITECTURA + CINE + CIUDAD.

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