Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Eileen Gray was born Kathleen Eileen Moray in 1879 in Southeastern Ireland to a distinguished family. She grew up in a family home called Brownswood which she loved dearly. Never raised as a protected child, Eileen was quiet, shy, and introverted, but she had a bold personality and was not to be limited by conventions. She always strove to do the best she could in school and in the work she did of her own initiatives. After her brother and father died in the early 1900s, Eileen traveled to Switzerland to send her much loved family members off. To pursue her love of freedom, she decided to go to art school in London.

In London  Eileen attended the Slade School of Fine Art in London, a part of the University of London. Here, Eileen learned to draw and to paint but she quickly found herself loosing interest in drawing. She felt herself to not be proficient in it and decided to pursue the decorative arts instead. After a visit to Paris with her mother in 1900, Eileen felt immediately drawn to the city and in 1907 she decided to move there permanently. She rented a large apartment, 21 rue Bonaparte, which she purchased 3 years later and where she remained for the next 70 years. Eileen was obstinate and disliked the mainstream culture, only taking interest in new inventions in art and technology, but did not take any interest on anything labelled 'avant-garde'. She rejected the belief that the machine would transform life, but rather liked to believe that there is a need for emotion in all creations.

After coming across a lacquer repair shop in Paris, Eileen took to the technique of creating lacquered panels and met a contact of the shop owner, Seizo Sugawara, whom she worked with and moved back to London with when World War I broke out. After the war, they moved back and Eileen was commissioned to furnish and create lacquer panels for an apartment. She studied with him for four years. Soon, she opened a shop and started to sell her panels.

In 1921, Eileen Gray met Jean Badovici. Under his influence, she began to resent her earlier, more luxurious work, and started to lean towards more simplistic, modern forms. Jean Badovici was one of the most influential figures in Eileen's life in terms of architecture. In 1924, Eileen was taught by Adrienne Gorska to draft, and just a year later, Jean Badovici asked Eileen to build him a little refuge in the South of France. 

Hence, the construction of E.1027 began in 1926. Eileen studied the house as a function for those who lived in it. She wanted E.1027 to embrace its context, instead of changing the landscape. She studied light, wind, and the precise passage of the sun before deciding on an orientation that best suited its purpose. Its orientation enabled the cooling east wind to be captured by the roof staircase. Eileen remained on site throughout the whole process, though Badovici was rarely there. She worked with him on the structure of the building. During the building process, Eileen lived in solitary existence and saw only the workers. There was no road to the site, so all the materials needed to be brought by wheelbarrow.

Eileen's belief that the house should be very livable meant that she designed all the rooms orientated away from each other. Each had its own space, creating a sort of privacy and intimacy. Each detail of the house was scrutinized over, customized to best suit one who was living in it. Each window was tailored and changed to suit the orientation of the house and the function of the room. The furniture in it was designed to be movable and transformable. Eileen's first house, E.1027, was finished in 1929, though there were paper houses that she made in her study of architecture before that.

In the early 1930s, Eileen built Tempe à Pailla for herself off the coast at Castellar. The small house meant that Eileen had to rise to the challenge of living in such a compact space. She designed furniture that would be multifuncional.

In the beginning of World War II, Eileen stayed in Tempe à Pailla, though she and most foreigners were forced to move away from the sea. At the end of the war, Tempe à Pailla was looted, and a flat in which she kept her possessions was blown up. Eileen reached a low point in her life.

Eileen moved back to Paris, a place that she always loved, and lead a quiet life in her apartment on 21 rue Bonaparte. She preoccupied herself with drawing up plans for towns, and some very concrete ideas that Badovici set upon her. At the end of 1946, after Eileen had designed a large scale theatre, she was asked to design furniture and equipment for a worker's flat. She refused, saying it was because a lack of material, but in reality, it was because her eyesight had started to give. Through her stubborn and focused personality, Eileen worked through times when her fingers would numb and would go on until her eyesight blurred out at the end of the day. Rue Bonaparte became her permanent residence.

During the last years of her life, Eileen took up painting again, though she was not completely satisfied with her results. She was once again recognized after an article that was published to appreciate her career. Eileen was suddenly documented again and she received request after request for interviews. Eileen became frail in her nineties, though her stubborn personality never changed. On Sunday, October 31, 1976, Eileen gray passed away. Her death was announced on the radio, and it was the first time her name was said on the radio.

There is a road which leads upward and there is a road which leads downward. Both are one and the same. 
-Eileen Gray.

So who is this Jean Badovici guy anyway?

There is much speculation about the involvement of Jean Badovici in the design and construction of E-1027. The 10 and the 2 in the name of the house are code for his initials, but it's unclear if his role extended beyond that of influence and advice to Eileen Gray. A brief investigation after the break.

Here's a little bit we do know about the mystery man:

Jean Badoviso was born in Bucharest in 1893 and studied architecture at L'Ecole des Beaux Arts and at L'Ecole Speciale d'Architecture in Paris from 1917 until 1919. In 1921, he met Eileen Gray, who was in the process of opening her gallery at Jean Desert. He was 28 and she was 43 at the time. The story goes that they became lovers.

In 1923, he became the editor of an architectural publication that would grow to be one of the most influential in Europe, titled Architecture Vivante. It is said that he was the one that persuaded the powerful publisher Albert Morancé to give the journal it's start. Architecture Vivante became the mouth piece for some of the most important characters in the modern movement. The magazine frequently published and reproduced works by the members of the De Stijl movement, as well as those from the Bauhaus, particularly Walter Gropius. Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies Van der Rohe, Bruno Taut, and Adolf Loos all contributed to the magazine throughout it's lifetime. Through this position, Jean Badovici became friends with a lot of important figures, including Corbusier, who grew to be quite close with both Jean and Eileen. In 1924, Badovici helped to write an issue of the Dutch magazine,Wendingen, devoted entirely to Eileen Gray.

Badovici helped Gray develop as an architect in training through series of home renovations in Vézelay, as well as a few theoretical architecture projects such as the House for an Engineer and the rethinking of one of Adolf Loos' houses.What is evident, then, is that when it came time to collaborate with Gray on E-1027, that he had an interest in realizing a lot of the architectural principles and objectives that were published in his articles. The influence from the leading architects featured in Architecture Vivante in the design of E-1027 are obvious. The house incorporates all of Corbusier's "Five points towards a new Architecture", the spiral staircase that runs from the ground to the roof is inspired by Tatlin's Monument to the Third Internationale, and a lot of Eileen's furniture is inspired by the Bauhaus and DeStijl movements. Architecture Vivante was one of Gray's most important textbooks, and Badovici seems to have been her greatest mentor.

So how much of the design of E-1027 was Badovici responsible for? According to Peter Adams, he visited the construction site only on occasion, making sure that the technical matters were being tended to properly. Caroline Constant, on the other hand, suggests that he was much more involved. She notes that because of his deep involvement in architectural discourse at the time, that he felt responsible for implementing the avant garde objectives that Architecture Vivante was known for. It seems from a lot of Eileen's comments suggest that she was opposed to the dehumanizing nature of the international style, so according to Constant, it may make sense that it was Badovici who insisted such strict adherence to Corbusian principles. Badovici also owns the patents for the innovative sliding windows in the home, suggesting that the may be responsible for their design as well.

While his exact role remains unknown, we do know that he and Eileen lived in E-1027 after it was completed. In 1929, Architecture Vivante published a special issue devoted entirely to E1027, in which he gives a medium for Eileen to talk about her architectural objectives in the design through a back and forth dialogue between the two. Eileen designed another house for herself in 1932, and moved there, while Badovici kept the home as a vacation spot, and built another home for himself in 1938.

When Corbusier painted his infamous murals throughout the house between 1937 and 1939, it was Badovici who encouraged him to paint them. Despite Eileen's outrage, Badovici sent a letter to Corbusier saying, "Your frescoes more luminous and beautiful then ever. Intact. The contented always have little need to express their joy too vocally .... "

 The house remained in Badovici's possession until his death in 1956. Despite their differences, Eileen and Badovici were partners. Their lives were as intertwined for some time as the code E1027 implies. He was undoubtedly Eileen Gray's biggest mentor in her architectural development, and an important figure in architectural discourse in the early half of the 20th century.

Badovici, Corbusier, and his wife.


1. Constant, Caroline, "E. 1027: The Nonheroic Modernism of Eileen Gray", Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians Vol. 53, No. 3 (Sep., 1994), pp. 265-279, Published by: University of California Press on behalf of the Society of Architectural Historians
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/990937

2. Adam, Peter, "Eileen Gray: Her life and Work". Munich: Schirmer/Mosel, 2008

3. ECLG – Association pour la sauvegarde du site Eileen Gray & Le Corbusier a Roquebrune-Cap-Martin - Jean Badovici Biography - Accessed December 07, 2012. http://eileengray-etoiledemer-lecorbusier.org/biographies/jean-bodivici

Monday, December 10, 2012

Design Influences

Eileen Gray was born in a period of political changes. It was a period full of contradictions and uprise. These circumstances created an environment of changes and innovations in the artistic and design world as well. Eileen's career was influenced by a number of factors, including those she worked with, those she learned from, and the movements of the artistic world around her. Being a very intelligent and observant woman, Eileen looked into the past for inspiration as well as the present.

Eileen was influenced by the styles of different places of the world. Greece and Japan were two big ones, as she studied Lacquer in the Japanese style, and often used materials she imported from Japan. Great architects at the time, such as Adolf Loos, and Le Corbusier also influenced her style.

Eileen first visited Paris with her mother in 1900. In 1901, the Societé Nationale des Artists Décorateurs formed with one aim in mind - to free its artistic members from the exhibitions of the painting world, and to widen artists' horizons in terms of the kinds of work they did. In 1906, the Societé showed a collection of works in an annual exhibition, to which Eileen became a regular visitor. With this, she developed a keen interest in the decorative arts.

In 1907, a group of architects formed Deutscher Werkbund in Berlin, and in 1910, they had a Paris exhibition. The exhibition contained a lot of well made furniture with simple use of wood. Eileen admired this and the style of it was sure to affect her own furniture designs.

In Eileen's earlier work, she took inspiration from the Vienna school. She looked at many paintings of Gustav Klimt, and took to the architecture of Otto Wagner. The concepts of Antonio Gaudi of Barcelona and Henry de Velde of Belgium influenced her, as these architects saw architecture and furniture design as two parts to a whole and as something that simultaneously impacted space.

Eileen lived through movements of art, and one that affected her during her early career was Art Nouveau. Eileen appreciated the honesty and liberating forces in the style of Art Nouveau, but she always found that it was excessive in its forms and designs. She found herself wanting to work with simpler lines that related to the Arts and Crafts movement of her own native country. She valued the Russian constructivism and De Stijl movements, which was very different from Art Nouveau.

During her friendship with Badovici, Eileen kept in touch with Le Corbusier. Badovici published many of Corbu's works. Through this, she had all of the plans to Le Corbusier's projects. Being able to see the plans to projects such as Ville d'Avray, Villa Savoye, La Roche, Villa in Gardiens, and more, Eileen was influenced by his organization and concepts. She had always read his writing, and in 1923, when Vers Une Architecture was published, Eileen admired his high sense of moral principles. However, she, unlike him, wanted to have humanity and compassion in her projects, as to him, designs and houses were only a machine.

"The engineer's art is not enough unless it is guarded by human needs. A house is not a machine to live in. It is the shell of a man, his extension, his release, his spiritual emanation. Not only its visual harmony, but its organization as a whole, the whole work combined together, make it human in the most profound sense." -Eileen Gray 

 However, Le Corbusier had effected her in the sense that his influence had helped her make a decision on finding her own style. She was able to decide that architecture needed a distinct, but practical statement. She had found the purpose of architecture that encapsulated her character.

Information of the Area


·            Geographical coordinates                    Latitude: 43.7572, Longitude: 7.47417
                                                               43° 45
26 North, 7° 28 27 East
·            Area                                                     9.33 km²
·            Altitude                                                67m
·            Climate                                                Mediterranean

Site and Weather:

Eileen Gray and Jean Badovici carefully chose the site to correspond to what they believed would provide a peaceful vacation house. Badovici had specified the South of France. This area includes the French Riviera coastline, part of the Alpes-Maritimes, with cliffs that overlooks the sea. It was the mild climates, peaceful winds, and bright sunshine that attracted Eileen to this area. She also loved a challenge, and the changing levels of the site of E.1027 posed a tough one.

The Alpes-Maritimes département are sheltered by the Alps. This area of France has its own micro-climate. The Alps usually shields this area from the Mistral, which are strong, harsh winds that blow throughout france. Like Monaco, the Alpes-Maritimes and French Riviera areas have calm winds that blow from the sea to the land. Sometimes, in the summer, the Sirocco brings high temperatures and reddish desert sand from Africa, though this is rare. The winters are mild with very little wind. 

The Alpes-Maritimes receives around 2600 hours of sun, nearly sunny on 300 days a year, meaning that it gets more than enough sunshine to provide a nice vacation home, as Eileen Gray intended for E.1027 to be. 

Rain can be torrential, particularly in the autumn, when storms and rain are caused by the difference between the colder air inland and the warm Mediterranean water temperature. It is infrequent, but abundant, and occurs usually in February, and also October - November. The rainiest months are September, October, November, and December.

Snow is rare, falling once every ten years. 1956 was exceptional, when 20 centimeters blanketed the coast. In January 1985 the coast between Cannes and Menton received 30 to 40 centimeters. In the mountains, snow is present from November to May.

Average temperature in ˚C

Average Temperature and Rainfall for Alpes-Maritimes

Source: http://www.frenchconnections.co.uk/en/guide/georegion/506-south-of-france-and-the-riviera/156-provence---cote-d-azur/243-alpes-maritimes

Eileen has always intended for E.1027 to incorporate itself into the landscape, to become one with the context it was in. In the site of E.1027, the things that were the most important when she was building it was the wind, the sun, and the sea. She orientated the building so that the sun and the wind could travel freely through the house at certain times. (Click Here for more on movement of sun). She designed the house so that the cooling wind would be able to spill in from the winding staircase.

A lot of thought was put into considering the wind and the sun. As usual, Eileen put a lot of attention into the details of the context.

Relating history:
·            First resort area – for British upper class at end of 18th century
o   Climate therapy – cure for diseases
·            mid 19th century (railroad) vacation spot for British, Russians and other aristocrats.
·            First half of 20th century frequented by artists and writers  (Picasso, Matisse, Wharton, Maugham, Huxley) and wealthy Europeans & Americans
·            After WWI – popular tourist destination and convention site
·            WWII – many none-locals left
·            After WWII – tourists and none-locals come back, big on conventions

Period of:
·            Bauhaus – Walter Gropius
·            Villa Savoye – Le Corbusier
·            Barcelona Pavilion – Mies van der Rohe 

Added to by Emmeily Zhang

Sunday, December 09, 2012

The Cultural and Historical Timeline of E. 1027

Invention of the phonograph (1877) A section of the entryway of the villa is dedicated to the placement of phonographs.

The Société des Artistes Français is established (1881) It is an association of French painters and sculptors. Its annual exhibition is called the Salon. Many of Eileen's furniture works were displayed there.
Eileen discovers lacquer (1906) When Gray moved back to Paris in 1906 to an apartment where she remained for much of her working life, she met Seizo Sugawara. He originated from an area of Japan that was known for its decorative lacquer work and had emigrated to Paris to repair the lacquer work exhibited in the Exposition Universelle. She found, after working with Sugawara for four years, that she had developed the lacquer disease on her hands. However, she continued with her work and it was not until 1913, when she was thirty-five, that she exhibited any of it. When she did, it was a success.

Establishment of the Bauhaus (1919) The Bauhaus was a school in Germany that combined crafts and the fine arts and was famous for the approach to design that it publicized and taught. The Bauhaus greatly influenced the work of Eileen Gray.

Eileen establishes the shop 'Jean Desert' (1921) A small shop in Paris meant to exhibit and sell her work as well as other people's works.

Publication of L’Architecture Vivante (1923) Jean Badovici gained reputation not for constructing buildings but for analyzing and supporting avant garde architecture. He was an influential critic and mentor of international modern architecture in France since he began editing the magazine L’Architecture Vivante. Soon after the construction of E. 1027 it was published in this magazine. 

Corbusier publishes Vers une architecture (1923) Le Corbusier published his 5 principles of architecture. Eileen analysed and rejected some of his views on architecture. This publication was a major influence on the design of E. 1027.

Tempe à Pailla is created (1930) She designed and furnished herself a new home, Tempe à Pailla, outside Menton. This is another icon of modernist architecture, a space designed for her to dwell and work, a living/working machine as she wanted it, a space which could be constantly changed with multi-purpose furniture. She built on existing structures which anchored the house, based her house on ship structures, using forms that were long and narrow, many decks for views and levels for storage, much like E. 1027. Also, Eileen treated the outside space the same way as she treated the inside space; she did this by having the same tiles, the same material inside and out

WWII (1939 -1945) During World War II Gray, along with all other foreigners, was forced to evacuate the coast of France and move inland. After the war she discovered that her flat in Saint-Tropez had been blown up and that E. 1027 had been looted.

Corbusier's Le Petit Cabanon is created (1951) Le Corbusier's Cabanon was placed right next door to E. 1927, it is said that Corbusier had an obsession with E.1027.

The brutalist architecture movement (1960 - 1975)  Brutalist architecture is a style of architecture which flourished from the 1950s to the mid 1970s, spawned from the modernist architectural movement. Examples are typically very linear, fortress like and blockish, often with a predominance of concrete construction. E. 1027 among many other buildings created this movement.
E. 1027 is purchased by the Conservatoire du Littoral and is declared French national monument (1999) The restoration is being sponsored by the French government, Roqubrune-Cap-Martin, and the département des Alpes-Maritimes

E. 1027 is currently being renovated today (2012)

Timeline of E.1027

    1926-1929  designed and built
·            1932 the couple part – Badovici kept house
·            1938-1940 le Corbusier paints murals on the walls without permission during his visits
·                           She never forgave him and never went back into the house
·            1956 Badovici dies and his Romanian sister (nun) inherits property
·                           The Romanian state confiscates the property and puts it up for sale
·            1960 bought by Madame Schelbert (being convinced by le Corbusier)
·            1965 le Corbusier dies swimming in front of the house
·            1982 Dr Kaegi (Kägi) Schelbert's doctor (drug addict) buys it or gets it
·            1991 he sells all of Eileen's furniture for 3 million Francs
·            1994 he puts house on market for 5 million Francs
·            1996 murdered by his two gardeners after refusing to pay them
·            Empty for 3 years – vandalized by squatters
·            1999 purchased by Conservatoire du Littoral and declared French national monument
·            Renovation sponsored by:
o   French government
o   Roqubrune-Cap-Martin
o   Alpes-Maritimes département  
·            2008 most recent renovation started
        Currently being renovated

Plans, Elevations, and Sections

The following drawings depict the basement and first floor plan, five sections, and four elevations of E 1027.

First floor plan:
Basement floor plan:
Y-Section 1:
Y-Section 2:
Y-Section 3:
X-Section 1:
X-Section 2:
North Elevation:
East Elevation:
South Elevation:
West Elevation:

Drawings by: Mark C., Claire L., Emmeily Z.
Drawings edited by: Claire L.