Posts Tagged ‘Eileen Gray’

Eileen Gray – Transat Chair

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Transat Chair, by Eileen Gray. Paris, France, 1926


Superb modern chair by Eileen Gray, featured in a Guardian list this this week. It’s the Transat Chair (1925-30).

“The Transat chair is from the late 1920s, when Marcel Breuer, Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand were forging in tubular steel assertive icons of the machine age. Transat, with its spare timber frame and graceful curve of fabric, had more subtle ambitions. Gray, as her collaborator Jean Badovici said, was concerned with the “new ways of feeling” that came with their times, rather than with mass production. Transat – which is short for “transatlantique” – translates a deckchair from an ocean liner into a piece of indoor furniture. It is poised but relaxing, and came in pony skin and patent leather versions, among others.”


Update: Eileen Gray’s e-1027 house as of summer 2009

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Photo: Vibeke Jakobsen. Eileen Gray's e1027 house, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France

See a previous post for more information on this famous modernist house by Irish architect and designer Eileen Gray. There has been a lot of concern about the house’s survival, but as these recent photos by my Danish internet friend Vibeke Jakobsen show, it’s safely undergoing restoration. The house looks so much better – compare these to the photos in the previous post. The house is a major historical site and an important piece of architecture, but despite its fame in architectural circles, it’s a lot less publicly known than it should be. Is that because the architect was a woman? According to Patricia O’Reilly, who has written about the house, it’s undergoing “a €800,000 re-vamp with architect Gattier remaining close to Eileen Gray’s original concept, such as the black and white tiles; inbuilt furniture and footsteps cut out of stone staircase leading to roof terrace. But it has to be said that the focus of attention is on LeCorbusier’s murals and they seem to be the reason for this re-furbishment.” Le Corbusier was fascinated by the house, painted murals on it against Gray’s will, and died swimming just offshore from it – that’s why you see his memorial stone here, and there is a nearby promenade named after him. Thanks, Vibeke, for letting me post these photos here! The architecture nerds will be very happy.

Photo: Vibeke Jakobsen. Eileen Gray's e1027 house, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France

Photo: Vibeke Jakobsen. Eileen Gray's e1027 house, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France

Photo: Vibeke Jakobsen. Eileen Gray's e1027 house, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France

Photo: Vibeke Jakobsen. Eileen Gray's e1027 house, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France

Photo: Vibeke Jakobsen. Eileen Gray's e1027 house, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France

Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

ada lovelace day

Ada Lovelace Day is an international blogging event instituted to draw attention to women who excel in the area of technology. Who is Ada Lovelace? From here:

Ada Lovelace was one of the world’s first computer programmers, and one of the first people to see computers as more than just a machine for doing sums. She wrote programmes for Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, a general-purpose computing machine, despite the fact that it was never built. She also wrote the very first description of a computer and of software.

See also the Wikipedia entry, where I discovered Lovelace was also, oddly, the only legitimate child of the poet Byron. On Ada Lovelace Day, bloggers are asked to write about a present-day female figure in technology. As in other technical fields, woman have excelled in architecture and design but have had a very tough time gaining recognition thanks to the fact that these fields have been extremely male-dominated. When Charlotte Perriand asked Corbusier for a job, he said “We don’t embroider cushions here.” Perriand convinced him to hire her anyway, and went on to become an important figure in design whose star is now rising long after her death. (By the way there is nothing inferior about embroidering cushions, and the textile arts ought to be furious about that remark.) Recent evidence shows that women need female role models much more than men need male role models. Please also see previous posts on Eileen Gray, Charlotte Perriand, Nanna Ditzel, and many other women designers of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Charlotte Perriand:

charlotte perriand portrait

Eileen Gray:

eileen gray portrait

And finally, I love this recent Annie Liebowitz photo of SANAA architect Kazuyo Sejima holding a model of her New Museum design:

kazuyo sejima

Eileen Gray’s Satellite Hanging Lamp

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

On occasion, the women of 20th C design do get a certain amount of recognition. This rare aluminum pendant lamp by Eileen Gray, previously owned by Yves St Laurent, is up for auction at Christie’s and is estimated at US$1 million. Via dailyicon. I’ve written about Gray before, here and here.

Eileen Gray’s E-1027 house

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

E-1027 house by Eileen Gray

villa e1027 by lesacablog.


E1027 house by Eileen Gray, living room

E1027 house by Eileen Gray, exterior by Eleni

In the late 1920s, the modernist designer and architect Eileen Gray designed and built a landmark piece of modernist architecture in the form of a seaside house. The Irish-born Gray is best known for her furniture design (her Bibendum chair is visible in the third photo above), but this is odd considering her architectural contributions. On a hill overlooking the Mediterranean at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France, Gray’s E-1027 house was built to share with her lover, critic Jean Badovici. The name of the house sounds impersonal, but it is in fact a numeric code for their joint initials; that interesting story is here. Also see a story about the building of the house by Patricia O’Reilly, who has also written a novel based on Gray’s life  (and who has kindly commented below). The house has steadily fallen into disrepair, and in the 1990s the house’s furniture, also designed by Gray, was sold off by its owner to fund house repairs. But the house continued to distintegrate until efforts to save it were apparently successful in 2000. It was mostly restored (see second photo above), then again fell into disrepair, and now seems to be going through a second restoration.

Gray’s inexplicable obscurity delayed the restoration project for far too long. Here is a description about its condition in the 90s:

What’s… remarkable is that E1027 is still a deteriorating ruin. When I lived in Monaco in 1995-7, I tried once to find it, but no locals could figure out what I was talking about. The most comprehensive images I’ve seen, though, are on flickr, a photoset made by Daniel, an Irish architect, who hopped the fence in 1997 when the house was a squat [the last owner had been murdered a couple of months prior.] I can’t find any images of Gray’s last house, Lou Perou, which was done near St Tropez, either. And I can’t find any word on the status of her own house, Tempe a Pailla, which was inland, up the mountains from Roquebrune & Menton in the village of Castellar. How is it that no modernist pilgrims have tracked and documented this stuff?

[Important update: there is new information about what has happened to this house at my post here and also in the comments below. Thank you. You may also want to listen to a “By Design” 2011 radio segment on the house on Australian Broadcasting Corp – audio is here at 15:18]

Corbusier, his wife & Jean Badovici in Eileen Gray's E1027 house

The photo above shows Corbusier, his wife and Jean Badovici, photographed by Gray. When you start researching the house,  you begin to suspect that Corbusier had something to do with Gray’s obscurity, and in fact many believe this. (See the link above for a summary of an interesting paper by Beatriz Colomina). It’s hard to determine what role Corbusier played in this, but it’s clear that he was extremely fascinated by E-1027.

Le Corbusier, arguably the greatest architect of the 20th century, was obsessed and haunted by E-1027, the seaside villa Eileen Gray built at Roquebrune Cap Martin in 1929. Over the decades, he sought to possess her “maison en bord de mer” in a multitude of ways. It may have been the last thing he saw before dying of a heart attack while swimming off the rocks beneath E-1027 in 1965. After he died, the footpath serving the area was designated Promenade Le Corbusier. In time, as Gray’s reputation faded, some would even credit him with the design of her villa.

More here. It’s known that Gray was infuriated by Corbusier’s alterations of the villa, especially the murals he painted on it while she was away and which she felt had vandalized it. She never returned to the house after that, and even in her nineties it was said she was still fuming about it. (The house’s recent disarray is obvious in the second mural photo. Again, full set of Flickr photos by Irish architect Daniel is here.)

e.1027 by Elen..

e.1027 by Elen..

Gray disagreed strongly with Corbusier’s idea of a house as a machine, arguing for a more organic conception of a functional living space. To this end she built her house taking into consideration the angle of the sun and the wind and the elements of the site, so that in every season the house fit into its environment but also, and more importantly, provided maximum pleasure for its inhabitants.

In 2008 the house was listed by Building Design as one of the world’s most romantic buildings, whatever that means. This house ought to be listed in an entirely less silly (and ghettoized feminine) category, one that doesn’t further deprive this house of the status it deserves.

Photo of restored house from flickr.

For more information about the house and a group working to save it, click below. Monograph on Gray’s work available from Amazon: Eileen Gray: Her Life and Work.


Eileen Gray – Tubelight and E1027 Table.

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

Eileen Gray, 1927, E-1027 adjustable table

Eileen Gray (1878-1976) produced some iconic pieces of early modernist design in a profession and an era hardly designed for women. Raised in Ireland, she trained in London and Paris and worked most of her life in France. She was a close friend of Corbusier’s and it seems clear that the design influences ran both ways, yet her Tubelight and her E-1027 table are still much more well-known than she is. Fortunately her name is slowly becoming better recognized outside design circles. These two pieces, both created in 1927, stand up well nearly a hundred years later and both are still in constant production. The table was designed for her sister, who liked to eat breakfast in bed and couldn’t find an appropriate surface. But it is named for the E-1027, the house Gray designed and built for her lover, the critic Jean Badovici, and that is where it was first shown. Her tubelight is equally compelling. Upcoming posts will include photos of these pieces as they were originally shown.

eileen gray tubelight, 1927