Eileen Gray

Visiting E.1027 in Cap-Martin, France

This summer, the Tadaima team traveled to the stunning French Riviera to explore one of the hidden gems of 20th-century architecture—Eileen Gray’s E.1027. Despite having no formal architectural training, Gray designed a home that seamlessly blends with its environment in Roquebrune-Cap Martin. Completed in 1929, E.1027 is a testament to Gray’s innovative thinking, featuring a floor plan that effortlessly blends the boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces.

Eileen Gray, born in Ireland in 1878, was a pioneer in modernist design who made her mark in Paris. Initially known for her work in lacquer and decorative arts, she evolved into a significant figure in furniture design and architecture. Despite her innovation, Gray’s contributions were overlooked in the male-dominated design world until 1972, when one of her works sold for a record price at auction. This late recognition affirmed her status as a major designer, just a few years before her death in 1976. Gray is remembered as a non-conformist who finally achieved the recognition she deserved.

“Designed in 1926 for her friend Jean Badovici, E.1027 was Eileen Gray’s first architectural project. Boldly modern and defying the norms of the time, the house’s name cleverly represents the close bond between Gray and Badovici. It combines their initials and their positions in the alphabet: E for Eileen, 10 for J (the tenth letter), 2 for B, and 7 for G. ”

From the moment we arrived, E.1027 impressed us with its natural integration into the coastal landscape. Situated on a steep hillside, the house offers panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea. Its design epitomizes modernist principles with clean lines, open spaces, and a thoughtful use of materials that feels both timeless and revolutionary.

“What really stands out at E.1027 is Gray’s foresight in creating adaptable living spaces. The house features movable partitions and dual-purpose furniture, allowing residents to tailor the environment to their changing needs. This level of adaptability was visionary at the time and remains a pinnacle of modern design practice. ”

Le Corbusier stayed in E.1027 as a guest in 1938 and 1939, during which time he controversially painted murals on the walls without Gray’s consent. This act sparked ongoing debates about preserving Gray’s vision versus recognizing the historical significance of the murals. After falling into disrepair due to neglect and misuse, including a period with squatters, the French government and local authorities purchased the house in 1999. The nonprofit Cap Moderne led a comprehensive restoration project, supported by various public and private partners, to restore the house to its original condition. In 2015, E.1027 and the Cap Moderne site were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, ensuring its preservation for future generations​.

“Our visit to E.1027 was an immersive experience, documented through a series of photographs that highlight the architectural brilliance and enduring beauty of Gray’s work. ”

The house seamlessly blends with the rugged hillside terrain, creating a fluid integration with the landscape. Bathed in natural light, the living room highlights Gray’s minimalist yet functional design approach. The terrace boasts breathtaking views where the sky meets the sea, epitomizing the perfect harmony between nature and architecture. Throughout the journal, close-up photos show the innovative furniture and built-in elements, showcasing Gray’s dedication to functional elegance.  

“E.1027 is more than an architectural landmark; it continues to inspire with its innovative design and thoughtful approach to living spaces. Our visit was a reminder of how impactful thoughtful design can be in shaping our environments. Eileen Gray’s work at E.1027 is now rightly celebrated and recognized worldwide. ”