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Villa E 1027: Eileen Gray's Masterpiece Rises from the Ashes

Published on , by Mylène Sultan

The architectural masterpiece designed by Eileen Gray in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin on the French Riviera has now reopened to the public, after a long period of neglect and five years' meticulous restoration. A manifesto of 1920s modernity.

© Manuel Bougot Villa E 1027: Eileen Gray's Masterpiece Rises from the Ashes

© Manuel Bougot

To find the perfect location for this "house by the sea" sought by Eileen Gray (1878–1976) and her companion, Romanian architect Jean Badovici (1893–1956), the designer traveled the entire French Riviera coastline from Saint-Tropez to Menton, finally settling on a plot covered with pine trees and lentisks (an evergreen shrub) in the Roquebrune Bay. The site was difficult to access, boxed in by the water and the railroad, and the narrow terrain was planted with a tangle of citrus trees all the way down to the rocks. But the view of the Mediterranean in all its immensity was breathtaking. Badovici bought the land in 1926. Gray started working on plans for a narrow L-shaped villa of 1292 square feet (120 sq meters), designing the furniture, refining the decoration down to the smallest detail and creating a total artwork that stands today as a manifesto of her style and ingenuity. By then the 48-year-old Irishwoman was a celebrated designer. After studying at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, she had focused on drawing at the Colarossi studio—which Jeanne Hébuterne and Camille Claudel…
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