“The quality of the connections is the key to quality per se” (Charles Eames)

Charles Eames

Here’s to the birthday of Charles Eames — legendary furniture designer, deft universe-explainer, celebrated champion of design as a force of culture, creative genius of uncommon sincerity, honesty, conviction, affection, imagination, and humor.

100 Quotes by Charles Eames is a tiny gem of a book, originally published in 2007, full of exactly what it says on the tin. Each of the 100 pearls of Eames wisdom, culled from his articles, books, films, interviews, lectures, notes, and office files, appears in 7 languages — English, Complex Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, Brazilian, Portuguese, and Spanish. A beautiful, minimalist cover with debossed typography adds a layer of joy to holding and touching the micro-tome.

From Maria Popova’s 15 of her favorite Eames quotes, here are the three quotes that resonate most with me. The quotes reflect Maria’s philosophy that everything is a remix and creativity is combinatorial. To which I am tempted to add: The latter because of the former.

Eventually everything connects — people, ideas, objects … the quality of the connections is the key to quality per se.

Most people aren’t trained to want to face the process of re-understanding a subject they already know. One must obtain not just literacy, but deep involvement and re-understanding.

If nothing else, a student must get from his training a feeling of security in change.

The first quote is a slightly different formulation of John Muir’s famous quote below, with an emphasis on quality as a function of connections. Taken together, they express what I think is the best understanding of education as an ecology of mind – broadly understood with the help of Gregory Bateson:

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.

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