by Neometro

The Redemption of Villa E-1027 by Eileen Gray

Architecture, Design - by Tiffany Jade

8th June, 2022

Located on France’s Côte d’Azur, Eileen Gray’s infamous Villa E-1027 was initially conceived as a haven for herself and her then-lover Jean Badovici. Designed and built between 1926 – 1929, the French Riviera villa was ill-fated from the very beginning.


Le Corbusier famously defiled it, tried and failed to buy it and was later found dead on the beach outside it. German soldiers caused degradation when they used it for target practice during WWII. Suspect circumstances surrounded the death of its owner in 1980 which was preceded by the removal of original modernist furniture pieces by Eileen Gray by the surgeon of the deceased only three days prior. Suffice to say, Villa E-1027 has been dogged by a curse which has only recently lifted (we hope) with this significant piece of modernist architectural history gently drawn-out of its long time state of disrepair to be restored and reopened as a cultural destination.

Almost a century after its completion, E-1027’s sordid past has been granted a reprieve with a clean slate aesthetically, and the correct design attribution to Eileen Gray. For half a century, the villa’s architecture was credited entirely as the work of Badovici or sometimes even Le Corbusier who was said to be obsessed with the house. 

Gray originally designed the home as an intensely private retreat however she left it to Badovici only 2 years later when they split up and built another home for herself nearby. Le Corbusier, a regular guest of Badovici, developed a jealous fixation towards the home which adheres to some (but not all) of his Five Points of Architecture first documented in 1927— concrete piles to elevate the homes volume; horizontal windows; an absence of load bearing internal walls; a rooftop garden. Gray took a different approach though with privacy a driving influence on the facade which features shutters that allow occupants to look upon the sea view while been protected from outside eyes. 

Inside, the villa retains the possibility for openness however Gray’s clever use of screens, partitions and joinery and furniture of dual-functionality, such as the iconic E-1027 table, allows the home to be spatially agile while still creating that integral privacy alongside moments of discovery as it is navigated. 

As Gray’s inaugural architectural project, E-1027 represented a natural progression on her established reputation as a furniture designer. Anchored by her belief that furnishing’s should blend with the architectural ensemble, the modernist home emerges in response to function and the specifics of its occupant’s own living patterns. When cultural conservationists Conservatoire du littoral purchased the abandoned villa in 1999 their focus was on restoring the iconic furniture pieces that were still contained within the home however it was a crowdfunding campaign by Cap Moderne that ultimately drove the restoration of the whole building. 

Villa E-1027 opened to the public in July 2021. 

The master bedroom from E-1027 is being presented as a full-scale walk-in installation at Salone del Mobile 2022.    

Images | Manuel Bougot

Words | Tiffany Jade


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