written by:
October 15, 2014
A new documentary film, Gray Matters, does justice to a life less ordinary: that of design innovator Eileen Gray.
Marco Antonio Orsini

Director Marco Antonio Orsini Interviewing Architect Robert Rebutato

 

Orsini's film deftly moves between different projects and phases of Gray's ever-evoloving career, though it does concentrate on e.1027, a home that stands as both a key statement and symbol and, according to Rebutato, the setting of a difficult story involving Gray and Corbusier. When Corbu visited the home in 1938 to paint murals, Rebutato says that he expressed a "desire to stain the walls," a statement many claim show the famed architect's envy and ego at play. 

Courtesy of 
Gray Matters
1 / 8
Gray Matters Director Marco Orsini

Gray Matters Director Marco Orsini in front of a Corbusier Mural

The documentary, in part, explores the fallout from Corbusier's murals at e.1027, which enraged Gray but also showcased Corbusier's obsession with the home, which led him to build his own cabin in an adjoining lot. In fact, Corbusier died of a heart attack swimming in the waters near the home in 1965, and perhaps it was one of the last things he ever saw. 

 

2 / 8
Villa e.1027 by Eileen Gray

e.1027 

A symbol of both Modernist thinking and Gray's formal and graceful entrance into the field of architecture, this seaside villa in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France, also represented her relationship with Romanian architecture critic Jean Bodovici, who encouraged her to explore the discipline. A central focus of a Gray biopic set for release next year, a target of Corbusier's envy, and a structure embroiled in controversy over a questionable restoration, e.1027 boasts its own compelling biography, with white walls that could speak to one of the more charged feuds in architectural history. Gray Matters explores the features and philosophies of this concrete villa, and how it relates to Gray's later buildings. 

 

Courtesy of 
Julian Lennon
3 / 8
e.1027 by Eileen Gray

e.1027 After Renovation

Dr. Jennifer Goff, curator of the Eileen Gray Exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland, contends that Gray's holistic design of this home, from the architecture and use of space to the radical furnishings, served to 'heighten the sense" of anyone coming through the home, creating a different world.  

Courtesy of 
Gray Matters
4 / 8
Paravent Briques by Eileen Gray

Paravent Briques (Black Brick Screen) 

This black lacquered screen exemplified her early furniture and fabrication work. After studying design in London and Paris, she encountered Seizo Sougawara, a Japanese artisan doing restoriation work who helped her master the technique. Initially working out of the bathroom at her apartment ar 21 rue Bonaparte, Gray utilized a time-intensive technique to make lacquered pieces for scores of clients, including a now-lost screen depicting the Milky Way with mother-of-pearl stars. 

Courtesy of 
Gray Matters
5 / 8
Petite Dragon Table

Petite Dragon Table 

Not to be confused with the Dragon Chair, a Gray piece sold at auction by Christie's in 2009 for 19.5 million, this small lacquered end table, once part of noted Parisian designer and collector Jacques Doucet's estate, is a bit of a mystery, the precise handiwork and fish scale patterns initially of unknown provenance.  

6 / 8
Pirogue Chaise

Pirogue Chaise

This sculptural day bed -- a transportive, buoyant piece referencing the canoes of the South Pacific -- was one of many standout pieces Gray created as part of a commission by the esteemd Madame Levy, who asked Gray to design her Rue de Lota apartment. 

 

 

Courtesy of 
Gray Matters
7 / 8
Bibendum Chair

Bibendum Chair 

Zeev Aram, design patron and owner of the influential Aram Gallery, recounts the recreation of this key design, which he has under license from Gray and still produces to this day, during the documentary. His collaboration with Gray during the later years of her career helped bridge different eras and expose her aesthetics and innovations to a new generation. 

Courtesy of 
Gray Matters
8 / 8
Marco Antonio Orsini

Director Marco Antonio Orsini Interviewing Architect Robert Rebutato

 

Orsini's film deftly moves between different projects and phases of Gray's ever-evoloving career, though it does concentrate on e.1027, a home that stands as both a key statement and symbol and, according to Rebutato, the setting of a difficult story involving Gray and Corbusier. When Corbu visited the home in 1938 to paint murals, Rebutato says that he expressed a "desire to stain the walls," a statement many claim show the famed architect's envy and ego at play. 

Premiering tonight at the annual Architectural & Design Film Festival in New York, Gray Matters examines the life of modernist icon Eileen Gray, whose work in furniture, interior design and architecture was aptly described as a "rolling experiment through the decades." Director Marco Orsini traces the arc of Gray's creativity and influence with insight from a score of scholars, collectors and designers, from her early years working in Paris to her extraordinary home designs to her reemergence after a period of obscurity. A scholary showcase for timeless work created in the dawn of Modernst design, Gray Matters provides a full account of a career once tragically set aside out of neglect. 

 

Gray Matters "Teaser" from Marco Antonio Orsini on Vimeo.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016