E.1027: A Modernist Mystery
Eileen Gray's Masterpiece Photographed by Gordon Watkinson


Since its completion in 1929, Irish born designer Eileen Gray’s E.1027 has been an object of intrigue and fascination. While the house is known among the architecture and design community, its tumultuous history as well as its unique architectural quality and setting have yet to reach a wide audience. The original pieces conceived by Eileen Gray for E.1027 have attained cult status and their re-editions have become ubiquitous items of interior design. Despite these achievements few people know the identity of the person behind these iconic examples of the modernist era.

American photographer Gordon Watkinson has been granted access to photograph the house prior to its being presented to the public in 2012. The ensuing project E.1027: A Modernist Mystery will incorporate architecture, design, and photography, offering a contemporary exploration of Eileen Gray’s masterpiece on the French Riviera. In a compelling combination of new photographs of the villa and re-editions of objects and pieces of furniture that Eileen Gray specifically designed for E.1027, the exhibition will give the public a unique opportunity to experience the symbiotic quality of the furniture in the context of the house for which it was originally conceived. Gordon Watkinson’s singular perspective will emphasize the beauty and simplicity of Eileen Gray’s work, underlining the common traits of her design and architecture.

Sample Photos

E.1027: A Modernist Mystery E.1027: A Modernist Mystery E.1027: A Modernist Mystery E.1027: A Modernist Mystery


Gordon Watkinson borrowed a camera for a photography class he took at the age of 24 while attending Virginia Commonwealth University. Although he had never thought of photography in a serious way, after completing the course his professor saw enough in his work that he encouraged Watkinson to reconsider his career choice and arranged for him to begin working as a photographic assistant. Watkinson has spent the past 18 years working as a commercial photographer for a broad range of clients from the fields of advertising, architecture, design, and fashion. In conjunction with his photographic work he has directed commercials, made industrial videos, and worked directly with major corporations as well as specialized brands, helping them to develop visual strategies for targeted markets. Over the years he developed a strong sensitivity for both forms and materials, which has shaped his visual approach and strengthened his fascination for timeless and minimalist design.

Watkinson's latest project, the exhibition Bauhaus twenty-21: An Ongoing Legacy, has been traveling throughout Europe since its opening in March 2009; the companion publication to the exhibition was published in English, German, Polish and will soon be available in a Chinese edition.


back to top

Introductory panel
- Introductory text
- Photograph of Eileen Gray (portrait by Berenice Abbott)
Photographs by Gordon Watkinson approx. 20
Archival pigment prints mounted on aluminum
42 x 58 inches / 106.68 x 147.32 cm
Detailed plans and drawings of E.1027 (interior and exterior) 2 — 5
Map locating E.1027 1
Furniture and objects by Eileen Gray (re-editions) for a room installation 7 to 10
Time line combing
- the life of Eileen Gray
- history of E.1027 from the original planning to the latest restoration
Space Requirements: approx. 1000 to 2000 square feet / approx. 100 to 200 square meters
Security: Limited
Participation Fees: Upon request


back to top

Foto+Synthesis offers the following educational opportunities with Gordon Watkinson:

Telling a Story: Photography & Architecture

2 day-workshop for middle and high school students 
Participants will learn how to use a series of photographs to illustrate a personal vision while developing an awareness of the local built environment.

Anatomy of a Photo Project 

1 day-seminar for university photography & art students, or/and general audience
Participants will learn how to develop a photographic project, from conception through planning for its realization in book or/and exhibition form.

Guided tours of the exhibition with Gordon Watkinson

Guided tours of the exhibition with photographer Gordon Watkinson for targeted audiences (general, children, high school students, art/photography/architecture/design students, architects, etc.)


back to top

Available from Fall 2013



back to top

In conjunction with the exhibition Foto+Synthesis will create a limited edition portfolio.


back to top

© 2015 Foto+Synthesis