.Eileen Gray at Deconet

Eileen Gray (Ireland 1878 - 1976)


The designer and architect Eileen Gray is today considered one of the most influential designers and architects of her time. She had a strong influence on Modernism and Art Deco. In a time when most leading designers were men and members of various movements, Gray as woman was refused access to the networks that boosted success. She gradually created her own success and finally reached international breakthrough both as furniture designer and architect. Gray's perhaps most celebrated design work is her glass and chrome tray table, E-1027 that has been reproduced and copied in many versions over the years. Gray became very interested in the art of lacquering while studying in London. She worked with the Japanese craftsman Sugawara from 1907 to 1914, designing lacquered furniture and building up key contacts such as the couturier Paul Poiret. In 1913 she showed her work at the Salon de la Société des Artistes in Paris. From 1915 to 1917 she ran a lacquerwork and furniture workshop in London with Sugawara. She went on to extend the range of her decorative design repertoire, producing handmade, abstract-patterned rugs and carpets and opening her Jean Désert furniture gallery in 1922 (which closed in 1929). However, by the mid-1920s Gray moved away from the richness of pattern and finish in the decorative arts towards the more austere aesthetic associated with Modernist architecture and design and in 1924 a special issue of the Dutch avant-garde magazine Wendingen was devoted to her work. From 1926 she worked on architectural schemes with Jean Badovici, the Romanian architect, critic, and editor of L'Architecture vivante, including the Modernist Maison en Bord de Mer in the south of France, the living room of which contained a mural painted by Le Corbusier. The furniture in this house was also Modernist, exploring the aesthetic possibilities of new materials such as chromium-plated tubing and glass.