Eileen Gray: E.1027 Master Bedroom Exhibition, Berlin
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A Modern Work of Total Art
Installation of the Master Bedroom at the Akademie der Künste
11 Apr - 11 Jun 19

The compact white elongated vacation residence cryptically called E.1027 is perched on the rocky coast of the Cote d'Azur. To this day, it draws the views of passers-by along the Moyenne Corniche, the narrow and winding coastal road along the Mediterranean Sea. The Anglo-Irish designer Eileen Gray (1878-1976) bought the site, paid for the construction and, as her first foray into architecture, designed it with some assistance of her close friend at the time, Jean Badovici, to whom Gray gave the site, building and contents. E.1027 was a manifesto, the kernel of Gray's subsequent social and architectural projects for vacation and cultural centers. For Gray E.1027 was an experiment with entirely new concepts of both compact and expansive spatial relations, and not simply the more well-known aspects of furniture design such as the legendary eponymous circular adjustable occasional table.

On close inspection, E.1027 is the first example of an architecture embracing an Ionic sensibility, that is an architecture concerned with both a sense of lightness, freedom and growth while at the same time being composed along discreet rules such as golden section proportions. Gray's loose and fitted pieces of furniture were intended to engage the occupants of E.1027; they transformed them while they were in turn subconsciously transformed by them. Semi-circular wardrobes, rotating reading tables and rounded corners indicated movement patters. Gray studied these as carefully as she studied the passage of the sun and the ventilating effect of drafts through her ingenious screens and carefully composed spatial sequences.

As a daughter of a wealthy Anglo-Irish family, Eileen Gray studied fine art at the Slade in London, became a master lacquer artist, opened a shop for furnishings in Paris and sold pieces to the wealthy and discerning. Together with Badovici, editor of the avant-garde journal 'L'Architecture Vivante, Gray absorbed the developments of early 20th century modern architecture. The two traveled the world, visiting exhibitions and contemporary examples of architecture. Gray's fundamental critique of these led Badovici to challenge Gray to demonstrate her own ideas in a building; it was to be E.1027 in Roquebrune-Cap Martin.

Eileen Gray designed the site and its landscape, the building, the spatial arrangement, the different windows (some in collaboration with Jean Badovici) and doors together with their hardware, the fitted and many items of loose furniture, the lamps, the textiles, the color scheme, while also being involved in transporting building materials and supervising construction.

If E. 1027 can be regarded as the seed from which Gray's subsequent projects for vacation facilities such as her Centre de Vacances (1937) were developed, then the master bedroom can in turn be regarded as the core of E.1027. Gray invented the spatial device of a split room to enrich the spatial experience. She designed a dozen special pieces for this room.

For this installation, comprehensive research was conducted by a team of students under the direction of Wilfried Wang, the curator of the installation, and collaborators in the office of Hoidn Wang Partner. As a result of the research all the elements of the master bedroom have been reconstructed. Visitors will be able to experience the confluence of spatial proportions, materials, colours and uses of the various situations and furniture pieces.

Gray's own black and white photographs of her design can convey only so much of the layered atmospheres that she was able to create; with the installation, that is accessible free of charge, every visitor will benefit from Gray's intentions.

The exhibition is accompanied by a 288 page illustrated monograph, Wasmuth Verlag, Tübingen
Exibition and monograph courtesy of
The University of Texas at Austin, O'Neil Ford Chair in Architecture;
The National Museum of Ireland, Eileen Gray Archive, Dublin;
The Victoria & Albert Museum, Eileen Gray Archive, London;
The Peter Adam Eileen Gray Collection, Paris;
Hoidn Wang Partner, Berlin.

Photo credit: Andreas (FranzXaver) Süß.