Design Notes Archive

Satellite Mirror

Satellite Mirror

If attention to detail is an admirable trait, then a bathroom adorned with a magnifying mirror is certainly one to be admired. The the most iconic of these is arguably Eileen Gray’s 1927 Satellite mirror. Designed as part of the furnishings for Villa E-1027—her first architectural project and her holiday home with architect Jean Badovici in the south of France—the mirror was placed above a pedestal sink in the guest suite. A master of marrying form and function, no simple mirror would do of course. Gray designed the large circular frame with a swing arm attachment boasting the magnifying mirror at one end. Another arm featured a sanded convex glass lamp to illuminate the user’s view. What a delight it must have been for guests who came to stay.

Fast forward to the late 1970s—a time when contemporary design was all the rage—and Andrée Putman launched Ecart, a Parisian firm that reissues designs from the 1930s (they are still in operation today). “Ecart” in fact most often translates in English to “gap” or “distance” as she was distancing herself from the trends of the day. It also spells “trace” backwards, paying homage to the great designs she was resurrecting, like Gray’s Satellite mirror. One of these reissues was famously used by architect John Young in the penthouse of the Thames Reach housing scheme, left. The bathroom, constructed as a freestanding glass block pavilion on the roof, boasted the Satellite mirror above an industrial sink with a Japanese cypress jacuzzi bath sunken in the floor below. It was at the height of “good design” during the late 1980s/early 1990s.

Later, in the 2010s, art and design collectors Andrew and Françoise Skurman mounted a Satellite mirror directly in front of their bathroom window, centre. Not only did it allow them to capture the incredible San Francisco light, but the abundance of reflective surfaces also bounce that light around for maximum effect. In more recent years, French designer Caroline Sarkozy installed one directly onto a wall-mounted mirror in a London flat, right. Sarkozy, who worked for Andrée Putnam before founding CS Decoration, designed this home in Eaton Square in collaboration with architect Louis Bourgois. The repetition of circles created by the Satellite mirror (and the pedestal mirror by Joseph Frank) creates a striking contrast to the geometric stonework. Which itself repeats in the black, white and gold color palette (the gold tone subtly carried from the floor to the sink to the ledge—now that’s attention to detail). 

If you’re looking to snatch up a Satellite mirror, The Invisible Collection sells reissues in nickel plated brass to the UK market, while Rewire in Los Angeles offers it wired to US-specifications for American buyers. And if Sotheby’s sale of Karl Lagerfeld’s estate last year was any indication, it’s a worthy investment. That lot sold for €6,300 despite its €800-€1,200 estimate. Or for a pared down take on this style, try pairing Balineum's Hanbury Round Mirror with our magnifying Hanbury Pivot Wall Mirror

Photos © Unknown, Jean-Marc Palisse, Lisa Romerein