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Eileen Gray

Born in Enniscorthy, Ireland, Eileen Gray spent her childhood in London and was among the first women to be admitted to the Slade School of Art where she took up painting in 1898 before undergoing an apprenticeship in a lacquer workshop. She moved to Paris in 1902 where she quickly established herself as one of the leading designers of lacquered screens and decorative panels.
During the '20s and '30s she became one of the leading exponents of the revolutionary new theories of design and construction and worked closely with many of the outstanding figures of the modern movement, including Le Corbusier and JJP Oud. Well to the fore of this group she exhibited chrome, steel tube and glass furniture in 1925 - the same year as Mies van der Rohe and Marcel Breuer and well before Le Corbusier. Her next major contribution to design was in architecture. Encouraged by Le Corbusier and JJP Oud, she designed two houses in the Alpes Maritimes, one at Roquebrune (built 1927- 29), the other at Castellar (built 1932-34).
After the war and up to her death, she continued to work as a designer, on both major projects like the cultural and social centre which occupied her from 1946-47, and on a number of smaller furniture designs. In 1972 she was appointed a Royal Designer to Industry by the Royal Society of Art, London. Since 1978 the Museum of Modern Art in New York has in its permanent design collection the Adjustable Table E 1027.

More about 'Eileen Gray' in our blog

Living in a Box. Design and Comics @ the Vitra Design Museum Schaudepot, Weil am Rhein

..."Wow" notes, Hana Sonnenschein in a scene from David Mazzucchelli's 2009 graphic novel Asterios Polyp, as she scans the eponymous professor's apartment, "Modern" And with its mix of works by Marcel Breuer, Le Corbuiser, Eileen Gray, George Nelson, Isamu Noguchi, etc, etc, etc, there is no arguing with the apartment's European inter-War and American mid-century modernist credentials... As is the comment by an Eileen Gray sideboard that "This place is just one big boys' club...

(smow) blog Design Calendar: August 9th 1878 – Happy Birthday Eileen Gray!

...There are of course some shinning examples of successful female modernist architects and designers who are accepted without the need of a male "qualifier" , the most notable being Eileen Gray... Born on August 9th 1878 in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland as the youngest of five children to the Scottish landscape painter James McLaren Smith and his wife Eveleen Pounden, the 19th Lady Gray, Eileen Gray studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London before moving to Paris in 1902...

(smow) blog 2013. A pictorial review: February

...IMM Cologne kept us busy into February, but the month also saw the opening of an Eileen Gray retrospective in Paris, a visit to the Louis Kahn exhibition at the Vitra Design Museum and the sad passing of James Irvine...

Centre Pompidou Paris: Eileen Gray. A Retrospective.

...From February 20th until May 20th 2013 the Centre Pompidou Paris is presenting a major retrospective devoted to the Irish artist, designer and architect Eileen Gray... As someone who once claimed "The future projects light, the past only clouds" we're not 100% certain the subject herself would approve; however, for us it is a welcome and long overdue Eileen Gray retrospective, and fittingly one being staged in the city that more than any other influenced and defined her life, character and career...

new at smow: Eileen Gray

...That's my idea of good design" We recite this tale here principally to amuse ourselves, but also by way of a gentle introduction to the new smow Eileen Gray range... Although for many Gray's work will not as familiar as that of Marcel Breuer, Le Corbusier or Mies van der Rohe one should not underestimate the contribution made by Eileen Gray to the development furniture design in the 20th century...

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