Eileen Gray architect and designer, 1878 - 1976
Eileen Gray was an Irish architect and furniture designer, born in Ireland in 1878 and was an early pioneer of Modernist Architecture and design. She began her career creating lacquered screens, in the Japanese style. In 1910, she created a workshop for the weaving of carpets and rugs.
Rue de Lota apartment, showing the Bibendum and Dragon chairs, 1917
In 1917, Gray was hired to redesign the Rue de Lota apartment of society hostess Juliette Lévy. The apartment was designed in the ‘Art Deco’ style and included Gray’s industrial and modernist furniture designs, the Bibendum Chair and Pirogue day bed.
Bibendum Chair, designed by Eileen Gray
Pirogue Day Bed, Eileen Gray circa 1920
Her furniture design explored decorative surfaces and luxurious materials as well as geometric forms. The success of the apartment led Gray to open her own shop in Paris, in 1922, called ‘Jean Désert’.
During the 1920s, she turned her attentions to architecture and In 1929, designed and built a white cuboid open-plan holiday home in Monaco, called ‘E-1027’.
E-1027, modernist villa designed and built by Eileen Gray, 1929
In addition to incorporating Le Corbusier’s ‘Five points of the New Architecture’ in the external design of E-1027, (open plan, on pillars, horizontal windows, open façade and accessible roof), Gray focused on the interior, building open and flexible living spaces filled with multi-purpose furniture.
In 1967, Joseph Rykwert published an easy on Gray's work in Italian Design magazine 'Domus", which renewed interest in her work. In 1973, Gray gave the worldwide rights to manufacture and distribute her furniture designs to Aram in London and they remain in production today. Eileen Gray died in 1976 aged 98.
Eileen Grey circa 1970s