Eileen Gray's E-1027: The modernist home filled with stories

by Sloane Middleton

Eileen Gray (1878-1976) is widely considered among Modernism's most important designers. Her architectural wonder, the E-1027 features classic hallmarks of modernist architecture such as floor-to-ceiling windows and tons of crisp angles - but it's what happened inside these walls that makes the E-1027 so fascinating. 

E-1027 Cap Moderne South of France modernist architecture

E-1027 modern restoration, Manuel Bougot, 2016.

Located in the South of France, the villa was originally designed as a romantic destination for her and her lover, French architect Jean Badovici. However, E-1027 became a source of great frustration instead of happiness throughout Gray's life. The couple separated soon after its completion, and Badovici kept the house. The villa subsequently became a bachelor pad where Badovici hosted many friends - including Le Corbusier.

Le Corbusier made his own mark on the place, painting large, brightly colored murals along most of the home's clean white walls, an act that Gray angrily considered "outright vandalism." Photos show him painting E-1027 while nude, leading architecture critic Rowan Moore to compare his dominant behavior to that of "a urinating dog over the territory" suggesting that he was "seemingly affronted that a woman could create such a fine work of modernism." 

Le Corbusier vandalizing Eileen Gray's E-1027 with mural nude

Le Corbusier painting E-1027 in the nude, Source Unknown, 1938.

After Badovici had moved on and Le Corbusier failed to purchase the home, E-1027 saw years of neglect until it was finally restored to Gray's original vision in 2016. The original furniture that she designed specifically for the villa include patterned rugs, pivoting mirrors, custom shelving, and the now widely-renowned E-1027 Side Table.

E-1027 interior - The drawing room, painting by Le Corbusier in April 1938, a reconstitution of the maritime chart. Furniture and carpets by Eileen Gray (reproduced and donated by Aram Designs)

Living room of E-1027 post-restoration, Manuel Bougot, 2016.

E-1027 guest room - Adjustable Side Table for breakfast in bed

Guest room of E-1027 post-restoration, Tim Benton, 2016.

The Adjustable E-1027 Side Table was designed by Gray so that her sister could eat breakfast in bed without getting crumbs on the sheets. This side table has attained iconic status - beloved for the flexibility, originality, and modernist qualities that are hallmarks of Eileen Gray's designs.  

Eileen Gray - modernist architecture icon

 Portrait of Eileen Gray, Getty Images, 1929.