The voluptuous Bibendum chair, named after the Michelin man for its soft, comfortable cushions, is a perfect example of Gray’s decorative union between Art Deco and Modernism. Combining cold, pure tubular steel with the luxury and warmth of natural leather, Gray fuses the two styles into one. Image courtesy of classicon.com.
Gray studied the craft of lacquer work under the Japanese master Seizo Sugawara. Although she drew directly from the technique, she incorporated distinctly modern elements into this 1928 screen’s design, decorating the sleek piece with geometric designs against a stark black background. Image courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Gray designed her famous Pirogue daybed for the Rue de Lota apartment between 1920 and 1924. The lacquered daybed was inspired by Polynesian dugout canoes. It is a delicate, feminized piece, recalling exotic designs, luxurious materials, and historical French forms. Image courtesy of Design Museum.
The Rue de Bonaparte apartment, which features the Bibendum chairs along with a collection of striking animal hide blankets and rugs, provides a sense of the modernist atmosphere within which the designer worked. White walls and open spaces, as well as a clear geometricity in the floor tiles and organization of the room, give the apartment a Le Corbusier-like airiness. This tone is complimented by Gray’s interest in femininity and comfort, which she incorporates through natural materials and delicate lines, differentiating her from her contemporaries. Image courtesy of Design Museum.
A fierce, independent woman and an innovative designer, Eileen Gray wove art, design, and architecture together into distinct projects that celebrated femininity and inspired both Modernism and Art Deco. Image courtesy of Design Museum.