Furniture Spotlight: Table E-1027

One of the ways we honor the Forever Modern promise and keep it relevant at Optima is by curating both public and residential spaces in our communities with timeless furniture. Take a stroll through any of our Optima communities and you will find the Table E-1027 in beautiful settings of pristine Modernist furniture. Let’s take a closer look.

Table E-1027 is an adjustable steel and glass table designed by Irish designer Eileen Gray in 1927. Originally created for her home in the south of France by the same name, the table has since become one of Gray’s most famous designs.

The table’s design celebrates the simplicity of Modernist ideals of form and function. The table consists of two concentric forms of tubular stainless steel that are joined by two vertical tubes to adjust the height — with one of the forms serving as an adjustable arm and tempered glass functioning as the table’s surface. The story behind the design is that Gray originally conceived it for her sister, who routinely ate breakfast in bed. With a traylike surface that could be positioned comfortably over the bed, her sister could enjoy her morning routine while avoiding dropping crumbs on the linens.

Table E-1027

Without question, Table E-1027 is one of Gray’s most famous pieces, even though she was a prolific designer. In the decades since it became available commercially, Table E-1027 has come to represent the epitome of Modernist design. It is multipurpose, adjustable and portable. It works just as well in a bedroom as in a living room or sitting area. And finally, it brings refinement and tastefulness to any interior setting.

At Optima, we’re proud to include Table E-1027 in a host of spaces and arrangements for our residents and their visitors to enjoy.

Eileen Gray’s E-1027 Reopens to the Public

Previously, in our Women in Architecture Series, we highlighted the streamlined, industrial style of the modernist designer and architect Eileen Gray, which you can read here. Of her many projects, Gray’s French Riviera villa, E-1027, remains most notable. Over time, the grandiose structure fell into ruins, but following an extensive restoration project, Gray’s Villa E-1027 has reopened to the public.  

In its prime, one of the property’s most beloved visitors was Le Corbusier. Following his death, the villa experienced neglect from numerous tenants for years. However, the property was purchased in 1999 by the French agency, Conservatoire du littoral, to oversee its protection and preservation. Later, in 2014 they established the Cap Moderne Association to manage the rehabilitation. After six years of comprehensive restoration work, the E-1027 villa mirrors the original design that was completed in 1929 by Gray and her husband, Jean Badovici. 

The project aimed to restore both the exterior environment and the interior fixtures of the villa. Inside, new built-in and free-standing furniture and artwork reflect the villa’s original lived-in state from nearly a century ago. Visitors are invited to consider how Gray pioneered an interpretation of modernist warmth with welcoming internal fixtures that contrast the villa’s sometimes cold, concrete structure. 

A large room is filled with a bed, chairs, rugs, and artwork. All pieces are designed to look like the lived in style of the 1920's.
The interior of Villa E-1027, Photo by Manuel Bougot

On the exterior, vibrant blue awnings covering the outdoor walkways offset the villa’s bright white walls. The “house by the sea” is intended to be a living organism within the structure’s larger atmosphere. Surrounded by lush greenery and landscaping on its north and south-west sides and built on pilotis just above a plunging cliff into the sea, the villa successfully fulfills Gray’s goal of being harmoniously integrated into its environment.

Timed tours of this modernist wonder are currently available for small groups looking for a getaway. You can learn more about E-1027 and how to visit it on Cap Moderne’s website here

Women in Architecture: Eileen Gray

While women’s contributions to architecture are celebrated more than ever in modern times, these contributions have always been part of the architectural world — historically, they were just overlooked. As part of our women in architecture series, today we’re spotlighting another strong female figure in Modernism: Eileen Gray. 

Eileen Gray was born into a wealthy aristocratic family in Ireland in 1878. Her father, a landscape painter, encouraged Gray’s artistic pursuits so that in 1900, Gray left for Slade School in London to study fine arts in a bohemian, co-ed program that was quite unusual for the time. 

From connections made at Slade, Gray learned to lacquer furniture, eventually opening a studio in 1910 with Japanese craftsman Seizo Sugawara. In fact, Gray was so committed to the trade that she suffered from the so-called lacquer disease — a painful hand rash. Her hard work paid off, however, as she and Sugawara produced commissions for Paris’s wealthy elite.

Bibendum Chair, designed by Eileen Gray. Photo courtesy of EileenGrayDesigns.com
Bibendum Chair, designed by Eileen Gray. Photo courtesy of EileenGrayDesigns.com

Gray’s time lacquering was cut short by World War I. However, after a brief stint driving ambulances during that period, she dove back into the world of interior design. Her most notable project included the Rue de Lota apartment and showcased some of Gray’s most iconic furniture designs, such as the Bibendum Chair (which parodied the shape of the Michelin Man) and the Pirogue Day Bed. Gray’s success led her to open her own shop in 1922, attracting high-caliber clients like Ezra Pound. During that time, she honed her style to become more streamlined and industrial, taking after Modernist inspirations like Le Corbusier.

E-1027, designed by Eileen Gray in France in 1929. Photo courtesy of e1027.org
E-1027, designed by Eileen Gray in France in 1929. Photo courtesy of e1027.org

With the support of her romantic partner, architect Jean Badovici, Gray pursued architecture. And despite not having a formal education in the trade, through apprenticeship and field learning, Gray flourished. Gray’s most notable architectural project was E-1027, a cuboid structure. When Gray finished E-1027, Badovici announced the home in his magazine and claimed himself joint architect. Of the nine architectural projects she completed in her lifetime, Badovici took credit for four of them.The home attracted Le Corbusier, who stayed often and later disrespected Gray’s wishes that the home remain without decor when Corbusier painted Cubist murals of naked women on its walls. Critic Rowan Moore commented on the move by Corbusier in 2013, calling it an “act of naked phallocracy” by a man asserting “his dominion, like a urinating dog, over the territory.”

In spite of the disrespect she faced from her male counterparts, Gray stands evermore steadfast as an influential figure in Modernist history. 

Stay tuned for more features on women in architecture.

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