On the opening night of New York’s Architecture and Design Film Festival (ADFF) this year, Eileen Gray will receive some long-overdue recognition. The international cinema festival announced that the world premiere of "Gray Matters," a documentary about the 20th-century female architect, artist, and designer, will kick off this season’s festival at Tribeca Cinemas. The full-length film explores the life and career of Gray, whose historical significance within the architecture world had been largely overlooked until recent years.
"Gray Matters" director Marco Orsini often makes documentaries with a political edge, and Gray’s story is of the same vein. The architect and designer is most well-known for her curvilinear, yet highly functional, furniture. She was also the first to create a concrete villa, Villa E1027, in the French Riviera (below). However, her prolific contributions went unnoticed in her time and ours, her legacy a victim of the architecture gender gap.
Often lumped under the title of Art Deco, the film presents Gray’s designs differently, arguing that she was far ahead of her time. Her work evokes the mechanical spirit of modernism, the clean lines of minimalism, and has a head for product utility; she created designs with a dedicated aesthetic that were to be used, not just admired.
Two other films will make their world premieres at ADFF this year. "Making Space: 5 Women Changing the Face of Architecture," directed by Ultan Guilfoye, is a four-year project by Amici Productions, LLC, a two-woman documentary team from New Zealand. The film follows the extraordinary efforts of five woman architects from across the contemporary Western world.
Directors Richard Jackman and Robert Lawson will premiere their 2006 documentary "Christiania: 40 Years of Occupation" about a 1971-founded squatters’ community in Copenhagen. Governed on democratic consensus, Christiania residents occupy 85 acres of abandoned buildings within the city and have created an alternative culture that the Danish government deemed a “social experiment.” Both "Making Space" and "Christiania" were funded in part through Kickstarter campaigns.
The Architecture and Design Film Festival is in its sixth season as New York’s resident festival of architecture and design cinema. From October 15th to 19th, the event will include 25 international film screenings, speaker panels, and Q&A sessions. Tickets will be available from the ADFF website on September 17th.