Eileen Gray – Irish Furniture Designer

Posted on 18th July 2011 in Irish Designer

Table by Eileen Gray

The Bibendum chair calls to you as soon as you walk into a living room or dining room with one it. With circular curves and a leather cushioned seat, the Beibendum is one of the modern furniture industry’s most popular chairs. Designed by furniture designer Eileen Gray, this innovative contemporary piece of furniture has two semi-circles that have plenty of padding to ensure a comfortable seat. Designed for a milliner, Madame Mathieu Levy, the chair was inspired by a Michelin character designed to create tires.

Born in Ireland, Gray was a pioneer in the modern movement. Through the years, in addition to traveling and painting her way across Italy and Switzerland, Gray has also attended school at the Slade School of Art. Despite her attachment to her mom. After she returned from classes by, early on, Gray moved to London for a time before continuing in the Academie Julian and Colarossi, both well known quality modern and contemporary design schools.

After she got into art, she began traveling across Europe while working, hopping from Lonton to Paris to Ireland, at least until her mother got really sick in 1905.

After this, she became intensely interested in lacquer work and began working as an apprentice of sorts as she learned the trade and the industry. In 1906, she met a Japanese lacquerer named Seizo Sugawara who had come to Paris to work on the Exposition Universelle, one of Gray’s original inspirations to produce quality art work. Gray feel in love with lacquer work and worked with Sugawara for four years before taking him with her to Paris where she was placed in charged of decorating an apartment home, including her favorite design: lacquered walls.

The success of this design installation led to the opening of her own showroom and shop in Paris to host her work.The challenge of using interior design contemporary furniture was a good one but Gray, who loved a challenge, stepped up to the plate creating a modern but edgy contemporary design.

One of her larger achievements has been the designer of E-1027 home in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin in South France.  Part of this achievement included the design of her E-1027 chair as well as a relationship with Marcel Breuer in Bauhaus School. While modern and contempoerary furniture designs were a part of Gray’s repertoire, she is not widely known for much beyond the above mentioned table and chair designs.

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