About Eileen Gray - Biography - Sweet Modern - Product Type - Details

Eileen Gray

Eileen Gray

Eileen Gray was born in August of 1878.  A pioneer of the Modern Movement in architecture, Kathleen Eileen Moray Smith was born in Ireland. 

Gray attended the Slade School in London from 1900-1902.  While at Slade Gray was taught by Philip Wilson Steer, Henry Tonks, Frederick Brown, and Dean Charles who introduced her to lacquering and furniture restoration.  In 1902 Gray moved to Paris and attended the Académie Colarossi as well as the Académie Julian. She returned to London in 1905 to care for her ill mother, where Eileen began taking lacquering lessons yet again with Dean Charles.  After her mother passed Gray returned to Paris where she began training with Seizo Sugawara of Jahoji, Japan.  Gray opened a lacquer workshop with Sugwara in 1910.  

After World War 1 Eileen and Sugawara wer hired to redesign the Rue de Lota apartment for Juliette Levy, owner of the fashion house and millinery shop.  Furniture designed for the Rue de Lota included the Bibendum Chair and the Pirogue Day Bed, two of her best known works.  The redesign of the Rue de Lota was a huge financial success.  After this Eileen opened her own business which was hugely successful.

Eileen studied architecture from 1922-1926, and began designing a new holiday home in Monaco to share with her lover, Jean Badovici.  The house would later be known as E-1027 and would become Eileen's most famous work of all time.  The name E-1027 was a code where the E stood for Eileen, 10 and 2 standing for JB or Jean Badovici, and 7 standing for Gray.  The E-1027 was designed around the 'Five Points of the New Architecture' that famous architect Le Corbusier had established.  Gray created many custom pieces of furniture for this house including tables, and chairs.  Le Corbusier admired the house stayed at the house frequently.  During a stay in 1938 Le Corbusier, jeaous that a female could design such a successful home in his field of study, vandalized the walls with murals of naked women.  Le Corbusier would later drown in the sea next to E1027 in 1965.  During World War 2 German soldiers used the walls of the house for target practice.

After Eileen's breakup with Jean Badovici in 1931 Gray began her work on the Tempe a Pailla near Menton, France.  Once again she built much of the furniture for this house and most of this furniture expanded or folded.  Key pieces of Gray's furniture designed at this time include expandable wardrobes and dining banquette tables that could be turned into occasional tables.  

Gray died in October of 1976 on Halloween in France.