Eileen Gray's modernist 1929 Villa in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin on the French Riviera – E1027
Some time ago at a clients office I noticed that the furniture in the reception area was similar to the Brno chair design by renowned architect Mies Van Der Rohe. I had seen these in a fascinating documentary on Haus Tugendhat in Brno, Czech Republic. Another of his famous designs is the Barcelona Chair. This had led to a conversation about a book by Simon Mawer called ‘The Glass Room' which was about the same Haus Tugendhat and made reference to an Irish Architect named Eileen Gray whose origins were in Enniscorthy.
I had just seen an article of the top ten women in architecture and remembered Eileen Gray was on that list but that she was famous more for her furniture design and lacquering (her furniture—lacquered folding screens, expanding side tables, industrial lamps—has reached stratospheric heights at auction. Her Dragons Armchair sold for $28 million in 2009 and set an auction record for 20th-century furniture). Her architectural masterpiece was a house she built in the south of France called Villa E1027.
There is a permanent exhibition of her work on display at the Irish Museum of Modern Art at Cathal Brugha Barracks – it was her wish that her work would be displayed in Ireland after her death.[She also has an exhibition running at the George Pompidou centre in Paris , a city where she practiced her craft for many years]. She was a modernist, just like Mies Van Der Rohe and apparently collaborated on furniture design projects with him. I have since discovered much about this amazing lady but ultimately I make reference to this as an illustration of how a building can truly define who we are as individuals.
It can tell our story and that is the fascination for me when I am photographing such buildings.