he story behind E-1027, Eileen Gray’s villa in Roquebrune, is a tale which touches architecture, design, emancipation, love, envy and possibly some other things as well. In what sense? Let’s go in order.
Architecture, because E-1027, Eileen Gray’s first project, is a splendid example of modernist construction. Eileen Gray was inspired by the teachings of Le Corbusier and by the support she received from Jean Badovici, architect and client of this project.
Design, because all the furniture was designed and arranged by Gray herself, this time breaking free from the strict and cold rules of modernism. The interior is indeed on a manageable scale. However, it was planned for an occupant who first of all needed comfort, space and intimacy: this is a house for living and not just inhabiting. Certainly, design enthusiasts will spot several well-known pieces among the furniture.
Emancipation, because Eileen Gray was a professional woman, which was something of a rarity in the twenties.
Love, because she was in a relationship with Jean Badovici. And this explains what E-1027 stands for: E for Eileen, 10 corresponds to J for Jean, 2 to B for Badovici, 7 to G for Gray.
Envy, because people often speculate that Le Corbusier, one of Badovici’s closest friends and regular visitor to his home, envied this project. For this reason, it’s also believed that Le Corbusier, unbeknown to the owners, painted several murals making fun of the couple’s relationship and of Eileen’s bisexuality. Needless to say, she didn’t take it well. Even so, there are some of these restored frescoes among the treasures at E-1027.
War, because during the Second World War, E-1027 was used by the Germans as a target for shooting practice. And this was just the beginning of its downfall. Its decline came to a halt only in 2015, when the building was finally renovated and opened for guided tours.
Now you know what to expect at E-1027. And the only thing left to do, is to see it with your own eyes, finding out all the secrets of a place, which is both intimate and extraordinary.
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