Monday, June 27, 2016

History of Furniture: The Eileen Gray Side Table

For this installment of The History of Furniture, let's take a look back at a staple of modernist design, the Eileen Gray Side Table.

Between 1926 and 1929, Irish interior and furniture designer and architect Eileen Gray (above) collaborated on the design and construction of a modernist villa with her lover, the French architect Jean Badovici. Located in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin in the south of France, the house was very forward-looking with a flat roof and floor to ceiling glass windows to take advantage of the views of the Mediterranean. Gray named it the E-1027 “Maison en bord de mer” house, a name which contained a secret code: E for Eileen, 10 for Jean (J is the tenth letter of the alphabet), 2 for Badovici and 7 for Gray.

For this home, Gray designed the interiors and pieces of furniture as well. And one of the most enduring of her designs is the iconic side table she created for her sister, who liked to have breakfast in bed. The table has an open circular base that allows it to slip under a bedside or sofa, letting the user bring it as close as possible. For maximum function, the table itself adjusts up and down. Featuring a tempered glass top, the body is made of stainless steel, inspired by some of the tubular steel experiments of Marcel Breuer at the Bauhaus (previously here).

Here is an archival photo of the table in situ at the E-1027 house in 1929!

As you can see, the design, while minimal and streamlined, is timeless and can go with furnishings from the 1930s, the 1960s or 70s, or with any current styles. It is a perfect accent or occasional table.

The table is now produced by ClassiCon, under authorization of The World Licence Holder Aram Designs Ltd, London. Design Within Reach is an authorized dealer as well.

Happy designing!

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