Architecture is still, sadly, mostly a man’s world. Though many woman architects are at the forefront of design and make headlines regularly, most principals and project leaders are men. There are many factors to blame, and while architecture schools graduate many women, few make it to the top. The old-guard and all-male leadership at many firms may principally be to blame, but suffice to say, architecture is by no means an equal employer.
Therefore I was very happy to interview Marco Orsini, writer, director, and producer of a documentary on the 20th century designer Eileen Gray. Often categorized as a Art Deco furniture designer, Gray was an architect, a craftsman, and above all else, someone who believed that good design should be accessible for all members of society. Her E-1207 house in France was a masterpiece of early modernist concrete architecture. Orsini framed his documentary as a new chapter in the history of modernism, one that gives Gray her dues thirty eight years after her death.
Above all else, I am still curious what allowed Gray to persevere through decades of neglect and disrespect from her peers. Though she had some wealth that gave her independence, at death (aged 98) she was still curating her past works and designing new ones. Read on for insight into her life, how the documentary came to be, and the controversy over the graphic Le Corbusier murals in her E-1207 house.
Top Image: Marco filming next to E-1027 in Cap Marten, France. Photography by Celina Lavotha.