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A pioneer of both the Art Deco style and the functionalist Modernist movement, bisexual Irish aristocrat Eileen Gray was best known for designing the Bibendum chair and the E.1027 table. This great tastemaker lived primarily in South Kensington, Paris and the South of France and another of her creations, once owned by Yves Saint Laurent, the ‘Fauteuil aux Dragons’ armchair, sold for £19 million at auction in 2009.
Extremely private, Gray once remarked: “The art of the engineer is not enough… A house is not a machine to live in. It is the shell of man, his extension, his release, his spiritual emanation. Not only its visual harmony but its organisation as a whole, the whole work combined together, make it human in the most profound sense.”
A stunning example of Eileen Gray’s work, an S-bend chair, is on display in Room 135, The Dr. Susan Weber Gallery at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
Eileen Gray also designed the ‘E.1027’ house at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, overlooking the Bay of Monaco in Franc as a gift for her lover, Jean Badovici, the editor of ‘L’Architecture Vivante’. ‘E’ is for Eileen, ‘10’ for the tenth letter of the alphabet, ‘J’ for Jean, ‘2’ for ‘B’ for Badovici and ‘7’ for ‘G’ for Gray. The building was completed in 1929.
The E-1027 table was designed for the eponymous house in 1927.