A house is not a machine to live in. It is the shell of man, his extension, his release, his emanation.
Kathleen Eileen Moray Gray (9 August 1878 – 31 October 1976) was an Irish furniture designer and architect and a pioneer of the Modern Movement in architecture. Gray’s first major architectural work was E1027, a modernist villa in the south of France. The name of the house E1027 is code of Eileen Gray and Jean Badovici, 'E' standing for Eileen, '10' Jean, '2' Badovici, '7' Gray. The encoded name was Eileen Gray's way of showing their relationship as lovers at the time when built.
“Defence De Rire” –– No Laughing
Eileen designed all the furniture specifically for E1027, including her famous Transat chair, tubular steel bedside tale and Bibendum armchair. She also hung a nautical map on the wall of the main room overlaying the words “L’invitation au Voyage” the title of a poem from Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal (1857), as well as “beaux-temps” (good weather) and “vas-y-totor” (the name she gave her automobile). The collage is an inducement to travel farther afield, both luring the imagination and underscoring the limited temporality of modern conditions of dwelling.
The Future Projects Light, The Past Only Clouds
The used Corbusian stencils to inscribe admonitions on the walls of E1027 – “entrez lentement” (enter slowly) by the main entrance and “defence de rire” (no laughing) on the foyer partition. Gray admired Le Corbusier’s architecture, even if she remained unconvinced by his polemical assertions. Responding to his well-known maxim, she concluded: “A house is not a machine to live in. It is the shell of man, his extension, his release, his emanation.”
Freedom in a House of Restricted Dimensions
Le Corbusier was obsessed and haunted by E1027. Over the decades, he sought to possess her “maison en bord de mer” in a multitude of ways. It may have been the last thing he saw before dying of a heart attack while swimming off the rocks beneath E1027 in 1965.Where Le Corbusier saw himself as the captain of a gigantic ocean liner sailing the masses through the tumultuous waters of Modernity, Eileen Gray’s E1027 is a floating nest, a houseboat, coasting through the waves within which the inhabitant can manipulate space for the creation of individual realities and solitary contemplation.