* 1878 Brownswood/Irland
† 1976 Paris
The Irish designer and architect Eileen Gray lost no time in making a name for herself as one of the great exponents of Modernism. Today her name is mentioned in one breath with those of Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, and Marcel Breuer. The Eileen Gray "adjustable table" (the model "E-1027) is an icon of 20th-century design. Dating from about 1925, it consisted of a circular glass top and a lean tubular steel frame. Eileen Gray, born in 1878, was the youngest of five children in a wealthy Irish family. In London Eileen Gray attended the Slade School of Fine Art from 1898 to 1902. During that time she first became acquainted with Asian lacquers and enthusiastic about them. In 1900 Eileen Gray went to Paris and attended courses between 1902 and 1905 at the École Colarossi and the Académie Julian. In 1907 Eileen Gray moved to Paris to stay. The Japanese craftsman Seizo Sougawara taught Eileen Gray the exacting art of Japanese lacquer techniques and from about 1910 Eileen Gray made lacquer folding screens and lacquer tables. In 1913 she showed her work for the first time at the Salon des Artistes Décorateurs. The fashion designer and art collector Jacques Doucet became her first important client. In 1919 Eileen Gray designed Madame Mathieu Lévy's flat in rue de Lota. In 1922 Eileen Gray opened the "Jean Désert" gallery, where she sold her lacquer tables and screens. In the 1920s Eileen Gray encountered the Dutch avant-group De Stijl and the abstract geometric work it produced. At the same time, she learned about contemporary architecture from the French architect Jean Badovici. Eileen Gray's own work was strongly influenced by modern architecture and from then on she designed stringently functional furniture, using new materials. Between 1926 and 1929 Eileen Gray and Badovici designed their house in Roquebrune: E-1027. For that house Eileen Gray designed ultra-modern furniture, including the iconic "E-1027" side table. In 1930/31 she designed furnishings for Jean Badovici's flat. In 1934 they designed "Tempe e Pailla" in Castellar. 1937 E. Gray showed work in Le Corbusier's "Pavillon des Temps Nouveau". Since her rediscovery, some of Eileen Gray's furniture is again available, reissued by Classicon.