A house is not a machine to live in... Not only its visual harmony but its entire organization, all the terms of the work, combine to render it human in the most profound sense.
Unique Stool from Tempe à Pailla
The stool presented here is one of three variations, all unique. One version is in the Musée des Arts Decoratifs, and another is in a private collection in Paris. The version presented here is one of two Gray chose to live with, at Tempe à Pailla and later in her apartment on rue Bonaparte.
Eileen Gray was born in 1878 to an aristocratic Anglo-Irish family, studied art in London and then in Paris, where she settled for the rest of her life, living in an apartment on rue Bonaparte until her death in 1976. She won lasting fame as a designer of exclusive furniture, interiors and architecture; her 1919 Dragon chair was acquired by Yves Saint Laurent and sold at auction in 2009 for $28.3 million, a world record for 20th century decorative art.
This stool is a precious survivor, literally a modernist treasure—for it provides a direct link to the interior that Gray completed, 90 years ago, as an intimate statement on living in a modern way.
By the early 1920s, Gray had taught herself the principles of architecture. She built a legendary white villa for her mentor, the Romanian architect Jean Badovici. Located on the rocky slopes of Cap Martin, overlooking the Mediterranean, she named it E-1027—code for her initials and his. Gray created a total work of art, modest in scale, that embodies the spirit of its era. Le Corbusier was Badovici's guest in 1938 and wrote to Gray: “Those few days spent in your house have made me appreciate that rare spirit that dictates all of its organization, both inside and outside, and has given modern furniture and equipment a form that is so dignified, so charming, and so full of wit.”