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Aram Designs visits E1027

Visitors are instructed to ‘Entrez Lentement’ (enter slowly) by a stencilled command on the entrance hall wall. This long-awaited experience is really not something anyone is going to want to rush.
The entire staff of Aram Designs were recently treated to a day-trip down to the Cap Moderne Project in the south of France to visit the newly restored, and now finally open to the public, Villa E1027. The pioneering Modernist house designed by Eileen Gray with Jean Badovici was constructed in the Riviera town of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin in 1926–29. But it’s not only Gray’s villa, with its chequered history involving Nazi soldiers, squatters and even murder (!) that is now drawing attention to this little plot on the Cote d’Azur. It is supplemented by another quirky and fascinating little gem in the form of Le Corbusier’s minimalist wooden retreat, ‘Le Cabanon’, making it a bucket-list visit for anyone with an interest in historical architecture.

Villa E1027 - built on steep terraces

A long, winding pathway takes you away from the town and down to the coastal site. Even though housing developments have sprung up in the vicinity over the years, there is still an intimate and isolated feeling once through the gate and down into the front garden of the villa. As explained to us by our tour guide (a descendant from the family that originally owned the plot of land where the villa is sited), the landscape was once formed of terraces that filtered down to the coast. They were predominantly filled with lemon trees, a fragrant cluster of which still greet you. The weather on the day we visited was unexpectedly glorious for the time of year so with the sun glinting off the Bay of Roquebrune, it suddenly became an all-sensory experience.

Le Corbusier murals - E1027

Le Corbusier’s murals – left, in the entrance hall and right, in the undercroft

Once inside the entrance hall, you are greeted by one of Le Corbusier’s “acts of vandalism”, as they were once described by a furious Gray. This is one of a series of restored Picasso-esque, figurative frescos that he, as photos attest, nakedly painted on the white interior walls after being given free-reign to do so by Badovici following the latter’s romantic split with Gray. German soldiers who occupied the villa for a time amid the Second World War were clearly not fans of his handiwork either and used one of his murals for target practice.

Villa E1027 - Salon

The main salon then appears behind a walled screen and reveals that interior, the one we’ve all seen in black and white photographs but which has now been carefully restituted and brought back to life along with a selection of her iconic pieces of furniture.* Wonderfully clever, concealed storage compartments can be discovered everywhere you look and bi-folding glass doors separate the salon from the balcony. These can be opened completely bringing the outside in, a recent trend with which Gray was experimenting nearly 90 years ago.

Villa E1027 - BalconyAfter staying there for a time in 1938, Le Corbusier wrote a letter to Gray: “Those few days spent in your house have made me appreciate the rare spirit that dictates all of its organization, both inside and outside, and has given the modern furniture and equipment a form that is so dignified, so charming and full of wit.” It’s been said that Le Corbusier became obsessed, even haunted, by Gray’s villa which is quite possibly why he chose to deface the building and assume some kind of artistic ownership with these murals that completely went against Gray’s monochromatic aesthetic.

Villa E1027

Badovici passed away in 1956 and Le Corbusier, for fear of losing access to his murals, convinced a wealthy Swiss aristocrat friend, Marie-Louise Schelbert, to purchase the villa. This proved to be a bad idea as Schelbert was in fact no fan of the villa, or its contents, and eventually turned it over to her morphine addicted doctor who then let it fall into disrepair and was eventually found murdered there.  Once abandoned, the villa was squatted in from time to time and fell into serious decline not only from abuse but also the coastal environment.  Thankfully, in 1999, the Conservatoire du Littoral took control of the villa and began the long yet sluggish (lots of hand-wringing and red tape to be unravelled) restoration process.

Le Corbusier - Cabanon

Le Corbusier’s Cabanon nestles in lush verdant foliage

Le Corbusier - Les Unités de Camping

Les Unités de Camping stand directly above Villa E1027

Le Corbusier’s ‘Cabanon’, the design of which he apparently sketched in 45 minutes, is literally perched on the shoulder of the villa. It is also neighboured with (conjoined, even, with a secret door he had installed so he could come and go as he pleased) l’Etoile de Mer bar, restaurant and holiday home which Thomas Rebutato, a former handyman from Nice, built in 1949.  The cabin appeared in 1952 after Rebutato, who owned the land, allowed him to build there in exchange for him designing a row of five holiday huts – Les Unités de Camping, a terraced riff on his Cabanon design, that were eventually built just behind and above E1027 in 1956.  The Cabanon is tiny, barely enough room to swing an E1027 table, but that was the point.  Based on a ship’s cabin, it was an experiment in minimal habitation so not an inch of space is wasted with certain fixtures and fittings collaborated on with Charlotte Perriand and Jean Prouvé.

Cap Moderne

Le Corbusier was once quoted as saying “how nice it would be to die swimming toward the sun” and in August 1965, whilst taking his regular morning dip in the Med, he suffered a fatal heart attack and his body was found washed ashore just below Eileen Gray’s former home.  It is conceivable that this building which had haunted him for so long was the last thing he ever saw.

Villa E1027

Port of Monaco

In E1027 when standing on the rear balcony or rather, deck, considering its intended nautical aesthetic with handrails lashed with tarps and even a lifebuoy crest, it’s really not hard to see why Gray staked out the area for months and chose this particular spot on the coast to build her retreat as the view across to the Port of Monaco is simply breath-taking. The villa and surrounds were fascinating places to visit and evoked quite a strange feeling, to be present in the house that Gray once built and lived in.

*All the Modernist furniture by Eileen Gray which is on display in Villa E1027 was donated to the restoration project by Aram Designs.


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Rose Quartz Serenity Pantone colour of  the year 2016

For the first time, PANTONE® have selected a blend of two colours as their go-to-hue for 2016: Rose Quartz (13-1520) and Serenity (15-3919). There’s no doubt they make a nice couple and the thinking behind this unison appears to stem from the recent trend for folk seeking a little ‘psychological reassurance’ from the day-to-day stresses of modern life through the practice of ‘mindfulness’. A balance is struck between the warm Rose Quartz and cool Serenity and the pluralistic approach to this year’s colour, according to PANTONE, is also tied into the hot topic of gender equality and the blurring of traditional perceptions of colour association:
In many parts of the world we are experiencing a gender blur as it relates to fashion, which has in turn impacted colour trends throughout all other areas of design. This more unilateral approach to colour is coinciding with societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity, the consumer’s increased comfort with using colour as a form of expression, a generation that has less concern about being typecast or judged and an open exchange of digital information that has opened our eyes to different approaches to colour usage.

Bertoia Chair and Jongerius 60 Stool

Aram Store is bang-on-trend, as per, with a lovely example in-store of Pantone’s colour blend for this year in the form of a Bertoia ‘Bird’ Chair by Knoll upholstered in a serene, pale blue Divina fabric flanked by a rose tinted Hella Jongerius edition of the classic Aalto 60 Stool for Artek.

Come and feel the calm.

Myles Brown

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Serif TV for Samsung by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec

Serif TV – Best Domestic Design winner at the Wallpaper* Design Awards 2016 – is now on display at Aram Store. A flat-screen TV in an I-shaped frame, it was designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for Samsung in collaboration with the company’s head of visual design Yun-Je Kang. It was conceived to fit in modern domestic and work environments, a move away from the technological and oversized designs that are more familiar in the electronics market today. It nods at bygone days when TVs were pieces of furniture encased in wooden or plastic cabinets. The product’s name is a reference to the serifs characterising the capital letter I, when the TV is seen in profile. The bottom edge forms a sturdy base whilst the flat top can be a shelf.

Serif TV for Samsung by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec

The TV is available in three colours – white, dark blue and red, and in three sizes. Serif is Ultra HD at 40″ and Serif Medium is HD at 32″ – both come with optional legs. Serif Mini, at 24″, was designed to sit on a piece of furniture or counter. All sizes come with attractive woven fabric backs which hide connectors and ports.

Serif TV available in three sizes and three colours

A Smart interface called ‘curtain mode’ was also developed by the design team. It pulls a fabric- or curtain-like filter over the screen giving an abstract impression of the services which are in operation behind it. The include a clock, Bluetooth speakers, apps and a photo gallery.

Winner of the Wallpaper* Best Domestic Design Award 2016

Serif TV is available to purchase directly from Samsung – click here or on the image above to be taken to samsung.com for full details.


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Aram’s long association with modern Danish design stretches back to the 1980s when a friendship was forged between Zeev Aram and the founder of Montana Furniture, Peter J. Lassen. Their relationship has endured and Aram has always maintained a wide and varied display of the Montana Storage System here at the store. Carl Hansen & Son and Fritz Hansen, both powerhouses of Danish furniture manufacturing, have also remained a heavy and valued presence on the shop floor over the years; each with a fine pedigree of designs in their stable and the Trinidad Chair, designed by Nanna Ditzel for Fredericia, was also first launched in the UK through Aram upon its release in the early 1990s. Lighting from the prestigious Louis Poulsen range has illuminated our displays since the beginning with the work of Poul Henningsen in particular becoming a mainstay who undoubtedly produced some of the greatest designs of the 20th century.

Here we present an overview of the influence of Danish Design, highlighting some of its principles and key designers – click the thumbnail to open the infographic:

The influence of Danish Design


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Aram Winter Sale 2015

The Aram Store Winter Sale will start online on Boxing Day, Saturday 26 December, with a 15% discount off all new orders. The Store in Drury Lane will be closed from 6pm on Wednesday 23 December until 10am on Tuesday 29 December. Click here for more info on our Christmas opening hours.


This year, we also have a fantastic special offer: get 50% discount off an Aram Designs rug when you order a lounge chair or sofa. *Eileen Gray collection rugs are excluded, as are Ptolemy Mann designs.

Aram Designs Rugs

Examples of Aram Designs Rugs: left – ‘Kagoshima’ by Thomas Heatherwick; centre – ‘Ropey’ by Eley Kishimoto; right – square rug by Maggie Bunzl

In store from Saturday 2 January there will be up to 70% off selected ex-display items of furniture. As always, these are sold as seen on a first-come-first-served basis and are only available in store.

Here is a small selection of these ex-display items – there will be many more available in store:

Lounge Sofa by Barber Osgerby

Lounge Sofa by Barber Osgerby for Knoll in mustard Coda fabric – was £5,628 sale price £3,939.60

Big discounts off ex-display chairs

Left: a set of four DSR chairs by Charles & Ray Eames for Vitra in chrome and white polypropylene – was £900 sale price £540; centre: a set of four Branca chairs by Sam Hecht for Mattiazzi in natural ash – was £2,644 sale price £1,850.80; right: 402 lounge chair by Alvar Aalto for Artek in black and white stripe fabric and birch frame – was £1,805 sale price £1,263.50

CH825 sideboard

CH825 Sideboard by Hans Wegner for Carl Hansen & Son in oiled oak with stainless steel sled legs (not shown) – was £5,182 sale price £3,886.50

Utrecht chair and Noguchi table

Left: Utrecht chair by Gerrit Rietveld for Cassina in terracotta Charlot fabric – was £2,465 sale price £1,725.50; right: Noguchi coffee table by Isamu Noguchi for Vitra, glass top and black stained base – was £1,322 sale price £661

Seito table

Seito dining table by Wolfgang Mezger for Walter Knoll, white quartz stone top with walnut legs – was £5,962 sale price £4,173.40


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Christmas Shopping20% off your Christmas Shopping at Aram Store!

Can you hear that?  Yes… that’s the sound of jingling bells so, for one night only on Thursday December 3rd, Aram Store will be spreading a little Christmas cheer by keeping its doors open until 9pm and offering 20% off all accessories (in store only).  We’ll also be providing festive refreshments so you can browse through all the wonderful gift ideas we’ve put together this year with a glass of prosecco in one hand and a mince pie in the other whilst Nat King Cole croons you into a Christmassy mood. Here is just a small selection:

Totem Stag Stendig Calendar

Left: Totem Stag – £24.00 Right: Stendig Calendar 2016 – £46.00

Left: Tolomeo Pinza lamp - £111.00. Right: Bird on a Stand - £8.50

Left: Tolomeo Pinza lamp – £111.00. Right: Bird on a Stand – £8.50

3D Fish Florero Vase Cover

Left: 3D Fish Sculpture – from £19.50 Right: Florero Paper Vase Cover – £14.50

Koto Candle Paolo Game

Left: Koto Scented Candle 190gr – £25.00 Right: Paolo Game – £34.50

Besides our shopping event in the Store that evening, there will also be added attractions up on the third floor where The Aram Gallery will be holding a private view in advance of its latest show whilst down in the basement area, the Aram Contracts team will be celebrating and unveiling their newly refurbished workspace and showroom.

Aram ContractsPlus, Katie Treggiden, journalist and editor of the confessionsofadesigngeek blog, will be previewing the third edition of her fabulous Fiera magazine and offering 20% off new subscriptions.

So as you can see, there will be lots to see and do and drink and eat so we do hope you can make it along for what should be a fun and festive evening here on Drury Lane…  Merry Christmas from all at Aram Store.


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Icon Magazine 150th Edition

The new Icon magazine goes on sale this week. With brand new content, under three new sections of Lifestyle, Architecture and Objects, the new Icon is all about design in everyday life. Whether innovative tech and fashion or cities pushing up beautiful skylines, it’s pacier and more wide-reaching than ever before. The new brand direction distils the best design from places, people and things. From personal kit, to restaurants and hotels, to the neighbourhoods and cities home to the most creative, intriguing design scenes. This is a magazine for you to sit back with at the weekends to keep up-to-date, to keep you engaged, and simply for you to enjoy.

In addition, Icon maintains its panel of top-flight contributors with solid, thoughtful critiques on latest works, reports from major events (and the stories of the emerging talent that is found there), as well as commentary.

The 150th issue showcases fresh design talent from Slovenia and Bosnia, explores two new hotels in upstate New York and asks if architecture can be a catalyst for change in Albania. Plus Sean Yashar, an LA Design Agent talks about how he helps to cultivate the careers of design talent via The Culture Creative.

Click the image below to go to the sampler.

Icon Magazine PreviewARAM STORE

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Grand Repos ChairThere’s no place like home. It is where you can gather your thoughts, family and friends. And at this time of the year it glows: heart-warming becomes more than a state of mind. The perfect setting for Winter Stories – seasonal tales for each and every generation, full of ideas, with a gift at their heart. So this Winter, when you order either a Grand Repos chair or an Eames Lounge chair in any combination of finishes, you can choose a free gift from a special selection from Vitra’s ‘Black Collection':

Eames Elephant

The Eames Elephant – deep black polypropylene finish only

Sunburst Clock

George Nelson’s Sunburst Clock – black and brass finish only

Hang It All Black Edition

Hang It All – black edition only

LTR Table

LTR Table – black laminate and black frame only

Girard Cat and Dog Dolls

Girard Cat and Dog Dolls – small size (17cm h) only

The offer runs until 31 January 2016 and is available both in store and online. Once you have placed an online order for a Grand Repos or Eames Lounge chair, we will contact you to ask which free gift you would like to choose.

Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman Black EditionARAM STORE

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Celebrating Charles and Ray EamesWithin his handwritten notes for a speech he gave at U.C.L.A. in 1949, Charles Eames scribbled down ‘design is a full time job’, a philosophy which will clearly be defined for all who visit a new exhibition – The World of Charles and Ray Eames – which opens at the Barbican Centre tomorrow.

Charles and Ray Eames with DCM chair frames

Charles and Ray Eames with DCM chair frames

The behemoth of a design office that this husband-and-wife duo put together in mid-twentieth century California worked across such varied fields as furniture, product and graphic design, film, photography and architecture, and everything from personal letters, original drawings and artwork to furniture prototypes will be on display throughout the gallery until February 2016.

Here are just a few of their instantly recognisable, iconic designs:

Eames Lounge Chair Ottoman

The Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman

Eames RAR and DSR chairs

Eames Plastic Chairs – the ‘RAR’ (left) and the ‘DSR’ (right)

Eames Soft Pad and Aluminium Group

The Soft Pad EA219 chair (left) and the Aluminium Group EA116 chair (right)

Eames Plywood Group LCM LCW

The Plywood Group LCM chair (left) and LCW chair (right)

Hang It All and Eames Elephant

The Hang It All (left) and the Eames Elephant (right)

Anyone with a keen interest in the hugely influential Eames legacy of designs needs to visit the Barbican this winter to discover that they were about so much more than just moulded plywood and plastic. The exhibition runs from 21 October 2015 to 14 February 2016 – click here for more information.


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Marine d'Abord - design for a rugUntil 7 November 2015, the Osborne Samuel Gallery in Mayfair presents Eileen Gray: The Private Painter. Although some of the paintings were displayed at the Centre Pompidou in 2013, this is the first time these works have been exhibited in the UK. Miss Gray left many of her personal possessions after to her death to her close friend and biographer Peter Adam and amongst them were paintings that formed a private pastime for her, to alleviate the stresses of her professional life. Made between the 1920s and the 1960s, the paintings are in mixed media – mainly gouache and collage. Also included in the exhibition are photographs taken throughout Miss Gray’s career and personal possessions including her drawing table, cigarette case, monocle case and a plan chest made to her own specifications in 1926.

Aram Store has lent several items to the gallery to compliment the exhibition, including the famous E1027 Adjustable Table, the Blue Marine Rug and the Castellar Rug – original sketch designs of which also feature amongst the works displayed. The Osborne Samuel Gallery is located at 23a Bruton Street London W1J 6QG – www.osbornesamuel.com

The Exhibition is accompanied by the publication of a new book Eileen Gray: The Private Painter published by Lund Humphries which draws together many of the paintings with an appraisal by art critic Andrew Lambirth alongside a personal recollection by Peter Adam, based on his conversations with Miss Gray and her niece, the eminent artist Prunella Clough, on the nature of painting.

Eileen Gray Untitled Collage 1930

Untitled (1930) – mixed media collage

Untitled painting - Eileen Gray

Untitled (1930s) – gouache and collage on paper

Still Life with Kpan Mask - Eileen Gray

Still Life with Kpan Mask (1920s) – silver gelatin photographic print

Design for a Circular Rug - Eileen Gray

Design for a Circular Rug – pencil on paper (produced as the St Tropez Rug)

All images courtesy of the Osborne Samuel Gallery


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