I always felt Marilyn knew she was an Empress, especially when I remember her sitting at the head of the Thanksgiving table with her feast spread out for everyone to not only savor but also take in the beauty of her orchestration.
She attended Long Beach public schools, Long Beach City College and UCLA. Marilyn began her long career as a freelance designer in the Los Angeles area since her graduation. She taught design, painting and color theory at UCLA, UCLA Extension and at East Los Angeles Junior College.
Marilyn and her husband John Neuhart, worked together professionally since their marriage, and collaborated on numerous design projects, including graphics, films and exhibitions. From 1980 to 1998 they were partners in the design firm Neuhart Donges Neuhart, whose clients included the IBM Corporation, Herman Miller, Inc., The Huntington Library and Art Gallery, the Doheny Library, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Government of Taiwan and local businesses and institutions.
John and Marilyn authored and designed of three books on the history of the Eames Office. The first was Eames Design (1989) followed by Eames House (1994) and the two book set The Story of Eames Furniture, a comprehensive history of furniture development in the Eames Office.
The day Ben and I graduated from Otis College of Art and Design, back in the eighties, Marilyn made us glorious crowns for us to wear that were given to us in a special box made by John. Talk about feeling special!
There is also a photo of her with Ray Eames and John sitting on the lawn of MacArther Park waiting the graduation ceremony to begin. I believe the photo was taken by her son Andrew Neuhart.
I'd love to share more pictures of their truly wonderful and very authentic style, but the CD's are in a box some where within the scary storage closet here in our temporary rental. I'm not sure if I can readily find it. I'll take a look in a few weeks when my time should be a but more expansive. What's become quite obvious, as I sift through all the photos of John and Marilyn over the last thirty plus years, is that I'll be sharing more about them and their legacy as designers.
"I started to quilt when I was a small child sitting with my mother and my aunts
over a quilting frame. I continued to sew, albeit intermittently, as I went through
high school and college. After I left teaching for a period and with two small children,
I became a fulltime freelance graphic designer and once again took up my needle in earnest.
After making small cloth dolls for my children and friends, I made a doll for designer
Alexander Girard, who asked me to make a large number of them the new Textiles & Objects
shop he was designing in New York City for the Herman Miller Furniture Company.
Over the next few years (in the early 1960's), I made nearly 2,000 dolls
for the shop and for Girard's exhibition projects."
Besides having a great sense of color, pattern, texture, design and flavor, she was also a bit of a sensualist. Marilyn liked to take baths and enjoyed beautiful scents. Her favorite fragrances were 4711 and roses, the photo below is a vintage bottle of the illustrious perfume that she had in the guest bathroom. I would gift her bottles of my Blossom cologne and bath salts for the holidays and her birthday.
Marilyn passed on September 1st, 2017 just as Greg and I were driving through the desert on our way to Santa Fe. In a way, one of the many reasons I am living in Santa Fe today is because of Marilyn. She and her fabulous style which will live on for years to come, especially if books about her creative life and dolls are published. Marilyn was an integral thread in the Mid Century modern design revolution whose craft-womanship is an inspiration, particularly to all the makers who are part of the current DIY culture.
Photos: Museum of International Folk Art, John and Marilyn's home in Hermosa Beach, a variety of shots at the Neuhart house of Marilyn's embroidery, quilt, handprint, 4711 perfume bottle and Mexican statues display.
Edited April 13, 2018