Why The E1027 Adjustable Table is A Design Classic

The E1027 adjustable table

This purpose-built piece of furniture is now prized for its versatility.

Designer Eileen Gray’s sister, Thora, enjoyed breakfast in bed. So much so that it’s said Gray had her sibling’s comfort in mind when she devised the table that brought her fame.

The adjustable table was among several prototypes the Anglo-Irish designer and architect created in 1926 for her villa on the French Riviera. Gray’s flat-roofed, whitewashed concrete home at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin is an important example of functional architecture and a French national monument. She strove for maximum function from the modest Modernist home, which she gave the code name E1027 (E for Eileen, 10 and two for the letters J and B, representing her lover Jean Badovici, and seven, G for Gray). It was fitted with built-in elements – bedheads, storage and screens – and custom-made furniture and rugs bearing the house’s cipher.

Comprising two tubular steel spheres connected by a rectangular frame, the adjustable table’s base is open on the leading side – all the better to slide around a chair or bed leg to draw the surface close for breakfast, a sundowner on the terrace or working from home. The top lifts and lowers via an ingenious chain and linchpin system.

Gray had abandoned the relationship and the house and was in her 90s when influential London retailer and gallery owner Zeev Aram surprised her with a request to manufacture her designs in 1973. Australian retailer Anibou says the E1027 adjustable table, priced at $2100, remains a bestseller (regrettably it’s not protected by copyright laws here). With its minimal form and Art Deco overtones, the design has travelled comfortably through time, an ideal piece for the bedroom, bathroom, living room or patio.

Gray died in 1976, having finally gained the recognition she deserved, and her villa reopened to the public last year following a lengthy restoration. Along with structural and garden repairs, the house’s fixed and freestanding furniture was reconstructed by experts who studied her drawings and photographs. The E1027 adjustable table sits front and centre.

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Image credit: Elias Hassos

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