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Eileen Gray

June 26, 2013

Eileen Gray

Irish-born furniture designer and architect Eileen Gray studied at the Slade School of Art in London before moving to Paris. She won praise at the 1923 Salon d’Automne exhibition. Gray conformed to the phallocentric society of the period then by naming her store Galerie Jean Désert after a fictitious male, yet still managed to distinguish herself from her male architect-designer contemporaries in an independent and vital manner.

Gray’s E1027 Table (1929; Jean Adjustable Side Table) is a popular 20th century design icon and was designed for her vacation house in France with her then-lover Jean Badovici. The codes they used for the house and furnishings were derived from both their names. Interestingly, Le Corbusier, who was a friend of Badovici, came to admire the house so much that he took it upon himself to paint a series of murals on its walls and even bought a piece of property nearby when he couldn’t acquire the E1027 House itself (Le Corbusier died in the waters directly in front of the E1027 House, while he was swimming). Gray was livid by what she considered vandalism.

Gray and Badovici used the mod height-adjustable Jean side table next to the bed (perfect for eating in bed) but the circular glass table is utterly at place in the living room next to a chair or sofa or even in the office as well. The table’s structure is inspired by Marcel Breuer’s experiments with tubular steel at that time. The E1027 Table also calls the permanent collection in New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) home.

The side table shown above is a replica.

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