‘To create, one must first call everything into question’ – Eileen Gray
Eileen Gray is archietct and a designer from Ireland. Her father was a painter, he was the one who encouraged her to become an artist. Mother was from an aristocratic family; after divorcing her husband, Baroness Gray changed her children’s surname to Gray.
Gray was one of the first women who started studying at Slade School of Fine Art and graduated in 1898. Soon she moved to Paris with friends and continued studying there, but in 1905,because of her mother’s illness, she had to move back and settled in London. She returned to Slade School, but soon learned that drawing and painting wasn’t enough for her any more.
While in London she came across lacquer repair shop, she liked it so much that decided to study it. In 1906 Gray returned to Paris and with shop owner’s help came in contact with Japanese artist, Seizo Sugawara with whom she spent 4 years working. Since then she became sensitive to lacquer and developed lacquer disease on hand but continued working and in 1913, in age 35. she exhibited her lacquer work. Because of World War I she had to return in London in 1914.
Gray also tried working in interior design. She was working on a project during 1917-1921 and final outcome got praised from everyone. Soon architecture got designers attention. In 1924 she started working on a house, which was both compact and open. Complete house is like a modernist ship ready to sat sail. Nowadays after rebuilding, house is open for visitors. It’s called E-1027 after Gray’s and her friend’s names. In the beginning of 1930s Gray begin working on a new house, she designed interior and furniture too. Artist’s character is well shown in this house; Gray loved overcoming challenges, this is way she choose difficult site for working. She was very social person and loved entertaining guests, so she had open spaces in the house and wide balconies overlooking the sea, with a beautiful view. She liked her privacy too, it’s well seen in room arrangement, bedrooms are in the back of the house, from where mountains are seen. The green view calms you and relaxes.
‘The future projects light, the past only clouds’
– Eileen Gray
Let’s not forget, Gray was furniture designer too. Most known from her works is Bibendum Chair, which was very innovative for that time. With it designer tried to make “progress”, to take next big step in her career. Also is known her E-1027 table.
Designer actively continued working on new projects till the end. She died in 1976 at age 98. Her works are still popular and people pay millions just to get them. This was woman who proudly took her place in the world of supposedly “man’s” professions and is known as strong designer and professional.
Author: Merry Khamkhadze