Thanks to These Designers, You Can Now See a Never-Built Eileen Gray House

rendering of a blocky building with a pool in front
Egg Collective Pays Homage to Eileen GrayCourtesy of Designer

Above: Egg Collective founders (from left) Stephanie Beamer, Crystal Ellis, and Hillary Petrie at their workshop in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Very little remains of 20th-century Irish designer Eileen Gray’s architecture. Of the three buildings that saw completion, only her 1929 French Riviera villa E-1027 has been properly recognized and restored, and that was after it survived being tampered with by Le Corbusier, shot up by Nazis, and left to languish, nearly forgotten.

But Gray left behind sketches for almost 50 unrealized projects. It was one of these plans that caught the attention of Egg Collective founders Stephanie Beamer, Crystal Ellis, and Hillary Petrie last year, when they were exploring potential settings to showcase their latest furniture collection. One of Gray’s unbuilt projects—her 1933–34 “House for Two Sculptors”—was a live-work space with an egg-shaped studio adjoining smaller living quarters. “It spoke to us,” Petrie says, “like a message through time.”

rendering of a blocky building with a pool in front
Egg Collective’s rendering of the exterior of the Gray house. Courtesy of Designer

Since the house was never built, they decided to construct it themselves in the form of renderings. Without any indications as to scale or siting, the blueprints and accompanying chipboard model left many details to the imagination. “We used contextual clues,” Petrie notes. They assumed, for instance, that producing large-format sculptures would require lots of room, so they stipulated triple-height ceilings for the ovoid atelier. Considering Gray’s connection to southern France, they gave the house a Mediterranean setting, with a pool and palm trees.

interior rendering of a room with a table and chairs and floor to ceiling glass windows in the back
A rendering by Egg Collective of the dining room in “House for Two Sculptors,” an unrealized commission by Gray.Courtesy of the designer

May 15, Egg Collective debuts “Designing Women IV: Eileen Gray’s House for Two Sculptors,” part of an ongoing series of exhibitions held at its TriBeCa showroom. Ellis’s sister, artist Tealia Ellis Ritter, has invited two sculptors, Molly Haynes and Taylor Kibby, to show their work alongside furniture—all displayed in vignettes inspired by the Gray house renderings. A limited-edition book will be available, with proceeds benefiting the Berkeley, California, makerspace Girls Garage.

a room with a low wood chair and oval segment table and a blobby shaped beige rug
The Robins armchair, Kerman cocktail table, and Eden Cloud rug are by Egg Collective. Courtesy of the designers

Egg Collective’s founders met as undergrads in Washington University’s architecture program. Among their small cohort of 60-odd students, the three found each other quickly. “We all had entrepreneurial parents,” Beamer says. As seniors, they took furniture-making electives together. After graduation they went their separate ways, but in 2011, they reunited in New York City and founded Egg Collective, with the goal of showing at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair the next year.

brown cork ring mirror
Egg Collective’s new cork Eileen Mirror.Courtesy of the designer

They drove a Budget rental truck to the fair’s Manhattan location and ended up winning Best New Designer. In the 12 years since, they have built a reputation for impeccable materials and artistry paired with forward-thinking, idea-driven designs.

The majority of the firm’s 20-person staff works out of its woodshop in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. They also tap into a network of small producers, such as marble artisans in Italy and rug weavers in Nepal. For the most part, Egg Collective pieces are custom made, primarily for interior designers like Ryan Lawson, Eve Robinson, and Pembrooke & Ives.

a living room with an l shaped blue tile wall and partial floor with a pale white sofa in front and segmented wooded tables and side tables
In a digital rendering of a living room and hallway in a house designed by Eileen Gray, the furniture includes a sofa, tables, and stools by Egg Collective. Courtesy of the designer

All three founders have worked in woodshops themselves, a hands-on training that also drew them to Gray. Ellis describes how Gray, in passing a lacquer workshop in London, decided to become an apprentice there. (Gray went on to train with a Japanese craftsman in Paris and became a master of the medium herself.) “What we fell in love with,” Ellis says, “was that she started her practice learning to make.”

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Hearst Owned

This story originally appeared in the May 2024 issue of ELLE DECOR. SUBSCRIBE

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