Eileen Gray’s modernist villa E-1027 in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France, was designed and built between 1926-29. This was the first major architectural work by the female Irish furniture designer, marking a turning point in Gray’s career.
The home, while compact in size, blurred the habitual lines between a building’s exterior structure and its decorative elements inside. Gray created a number of pieces within the house that later became some of her most commercially successful designs, such as the “Bibendum Armchair” and a useful breakfast table with an adjustable top that caught crumbs, allowing the user to eat freely in bed with no remaining mess. Both pieces had elements of tubular steel, a material that Marcel Breuer was working with at the time.
The name of the villa, ‘E-1027’ was a code between Gray and her then lover, Romanian architectural critic Jean Badovici. The code works out as follows: E stands for Eileen; 10 represents Jean, J being the 10th letter in the alphabet; 2 is for the B in Badovici, the second letter in the alphabet; and 7 represents Gray, G being the 7th letter. While the pair later split, Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier visited the house often, decorating its white walls with colorful murals and often paintings in the nude.