Eileen Gray, an Architect Ahead of Her Time, Reclaims the Spotlight

Berenice Abbott, “Portrait of Eileen Gray” (1926), silver gelatin print (image courtesy National Museum of Ireland)

Between 1926-1929, Irish architect and modernist Eileen Gray designed and built E 1027 — a white, angular villa in France’s Roquebrune-Cap-Martin on the Côte d’Azur.  The villa was Gray’s first major architectural work and she designed it to be a living space that integrated her artistic vision both inside and out — from her distinctive furniture designs to the villa’s floor-to-ceiling windows and sunken solarium.  The design of E 1027 prized movement, light, and efficiency; every part of every room served a purpose to Gray.  There was no “wasted” space.  Already a well-known furniture designer, Gray was one of the pioneering architect-designers of what would come to be known as the International Style.

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