Restoration of Villa E 1027 by Eileen Gray. Photo by Tim Benton | Yellowtrace
Photo © Tim Benton.

Restauration of Villa E 1027 by Eileen Gray. Photo by Manuel Bougo | Yellowtrace
Photo © Manuel Bougo.

estoration of Villa E 1027 by Eileen Gray. Photo by Tim Benton | Yellowtrace
Photo © Tim Benton.

 

A true icon of modern architecture, Villa E-1027 is Eileen Gray’s 1929 masterpiece on France’s Côte d’Azur, and Irish designer’s very first architectural project. After over a decade of mismanagement and controversial repairs, it’s restorations have been completed and the modernist villa opened to visitors for the first time mid 2015.

“The house, which heavily influenced the work of Le Corbusier and became an object of his jealous fixation, has a traumatic past that nearly resulted in its loss to history” explains David Langdon in his article for ArchDaily. Villa E-1027 spent much of the 20th century in a state of total disrepair before undergoing recent life-saving restorations. It was used for target practice by German soldiers during World War II, it witnessed the murder of its owner, before being abandoned in the 1990s and occupied by illegal squatters.

Gray came to the azure waters of the French Riviera in 1927 with her lover Jean Badovici and set about creating a romantic retreat for them. Fiercly private, Gray intended for the villa to become her seaside escape from Paris where she lived and worked. Badovici had other ideas, frequently inviting many artistic guests to stay, Le Corbusier among them, and the couple split in 1931. Gray left the house to Badovici and built herself a smaller place nearby.

In 1938, Le Corbusier painted eight sexually explicit murals all over E-1027’s walls, causing one of Modernism’s biggest rows. Bisexual Gray felt violated, Badovici was remorseful but the rift between the three never healed. This fight is a central theme of The Price of Desire, a film about Gray’s life to be released later this year.

 

Restauration of Villa E 1027 by Eileen Gray. Photo by Manuel Bougo | Yellowtrace
Photo © Manuel Bougo.

Restauration of Villa E 1027 by Eileen Gray. Photo by Manuel Bougo | Yellowtrace
Photo © Manuel Bougo.

Restauration of Villa E 1027 by Eileen Gray. Photo by Tim Benton | Yellowtrace
Photo © Tim Benton.

 

“A house is not a machine to live in”, wrote Gray in response to Le Corbusier’s famous line about a house being a machine á habiter. “It is the shell of man—his extension, his release, his spiritual emanation.” E-1027 was a pioneering and accomplished work of the modern movement in architecture, putting into practice ideas that were still new. Furthermore it brought essential qualities into building that other modernists lacked. “The poverty of modern architecture stems from the atrophy of sensuality,” said Gray.

E-1027 grew from furniture into a building. Gray created a number of pieces of loose and built-in furniture for the house and installed others that she had previously designed, always with close attention to their interaction with the senses and the human body. These newly released images of the restored house showcase Gray’s true genius, who pioneered a language of industrial modernism that has since become common practice. These images of the restored building convey the restrained beauty of Gray’s influential work that has had a profound effect on subsequent generations of architects, and earned its right for continued preservation. What a woman!

 

Restoration of Villa E 1027 by Eileen Gray. Photo by Manuel Bougo | Yellowtrace
Photo © Manuel Bougo.

Restauration of Villa E 1027 by Eileen Gray. Photo by Manuel Bougo | Yellowtrace
Photo © Manuel Bougo.


[Photography by Manuel Bougo and Tim Benton as noted.]

 

About The Author

Dana Tomić Hughes
Founder & Editor
Google+

Dana is an award-winning interior designer living in Sydney, Australia. With an unhealthy passion for design, Dana commits to an abnormal amount of daily design research. Regular travel and attendance at premier design events, enables Dana to stay at the forefront of the design world globally. While she is super serious about design, Dana never takes herself - nor design - too seriously. Together with her life and business partner, Dana is Boss Lady at Studio Yellowtrace, specialising in Design Strategy, Creative Direction and Special Projects. The studio takes a highly conceptual and holistic approach to translating brands & ideas into places & experiences.

3 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Kathy Joyce

    Than you. Thank you. One of my favourite designers ever. So pleased that Eileen Grays iconic home is being preserved for future generations. Although to me a house is a vehicle for living. Not sure that we need to imbue our environment as an extension of ones self?

    Reply
  2. Avatar
    joanna

    Awesome piece Dana – so glad this place wasn’t lost and can now be used to celebrate this independent and industrious thinker.

    Reply
  3. Avatar
    catherine

    Thank you for reminding us of the elegant brilliance of Eileen Gray! What a fabulous house and great way to start the day looking about inside.

    Reply

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