Eileen Gray (Ireland-France, 1878–1976)

Designer, artist and architect Eileen Gray was one of the most fascinating creative figures of the 20th century. Her body of work includes lustrous lacquered pieces — her Dragons chair set an auction record for modern furniture ($28 million) at the 2009 sale of the Yves Saint Laurent estate — and sleek chrome furnishings that rival the work of Le Corbusier and the members of the Bauhaus as exemplars of pure, modernist design.


The independent and unconventional daughter of Irish landed gentry, Gray studied painting at London’s Slade School of Fine Art in her early twenties before moving to Paris in 1906 to pursue her artistic dreams. Gray had become captivated by lacquerware after seeing an exhibit in the Victoria & Albert Museum, and in Paris persuaded an expatriate Japanese master of the painstaking process, Seizo Sugawara, to teach her. Within a few years, Gray had become known among the cognoscenti for her sculptural lacquered furnishings, which she incorporated into the homes of interior design clients.


She was ever evolving as a designer. By the early 1920s she was creating geometric works that embodied the essence of the nascent modernist design movement. Some pieces — such as her Bricks screen, an assemblage of pivoting rectangular panels — employ the planar forms favored by Gerrit Rietveld and other De Stijl architects of the Netherlands. Others feature the tubular chrome framing used by Marcel Breuer and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. These include the Bibendum chair — named for the resemblance of its semicircular back and armrest to the character known in English as the Michelin Man — and the adjustable E 1027 side table, conceived in 1927 for the interiors of a stark white villa she designed for herself in the South of France.


Never a self-promoter, Gray drifted out of the limelight in the 1930s. Interest in her work was revived in the early ’70s, however, when the estates of her early clients came to auction. Her original lacquer pieces are the most coveted, but, as the sale of the Dragons chair shows, are rare and extremely expense. None of Gray’s designs were made in large numbers until, a few years before her death, she granted a production license. These pieces range in price from $1,000 to $2,500, depending on furniture type and condition. Gray’s work has become iconic of practical and elegant modernist design. Yet, as you will see on these pages, many of her creations have a simplicity that makes them welcome even in a traditional setting.


Introspective Editor's Pick on Eileen Gray

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"Mermaid" Table Lamp by Eileen Gray, circa 1930-1940

By Eileen Gray
"Mermaid" Table Lamp by Eileen Gray, circa 1930-19...
Eileen Gray
Early 20th Century Table Lamps
Magnificent Eileen gray table lamp - in metal, glass and celluloid decorated with a cartouche featuring a siren playing the lyre. Model created for the house Jumo in the years 1930-194...
Eileen Gray Chrome and Leather Daybed

By Eileen Gray
Eileen Gray Chrome and Leather Daybed
Eileen Gray
20th Century Modern Daybeds
Leather, Chrome
This elegant, Minimalist daybed is one of Eileen Gray's most famous designs. It consists of black leather upholstery and a tubular chrome frame. Its structure is open so as to enable th...
Lacquer and Leather "Lota" Sofa by Eileen Gray, Designed 1924
Lacquer and Leather "Lota" Sofa by Eileen Gray, De...
Eileen Gray
Vintage 1980s Art Deco Sofas
Leather, Lacquer
Beautiful "Lota" sofa, designed by Eileen Gray in 1924, manufactured in the 1980s. The sofa is comprised of two black lacquer armrests (on casters) with soft leather cushions that rest ...
19th Century Sofa Lota by Eileen Gray Canapé Lounge Daybed
19th Century Sofa Lota by Eileen Gray Canapé Loung...
Eileen Gray
Vintage 1920s French Art Deco Sofas
Mohair, Velvet, Beech
Original sofa "Lota" by Eileen Gray Canapé lounge daybed 19th century, design 1924 The sofa, designed by Eileen Gray 1924, stands out with its lacquered sides and elegant simplicity...
Deco Bench in the Manner of Eileen Grey

By Eileen Gray
Deco Bench in the Manner of Eileen Grey
Eileen Gray
Mid-20th Century French Art Deco Benches
Walnut
Deco elegant bench in walnut with leather insert in the manner of Eileen Grey.
Large Art Deco Bakelite Table Lamp by Eileen Gray for Jumo, France
Large Art Deco Bakelite Table Lamp by Eileen Gray ...
Eileen Gray
Mid-20th Century French Art Deco Table Lamps
Metal, Bakelite
Designed by Eileen Gray for the French Jumo company and dating to the 1930s-1940s this very stylish lamp is made from two primary components which are bakelite and metal. Superb mushroo...
Eileen Gray Black Board Carpet edition Ecart International

By Eileen Gray, Ecart International
Eileen Gray Black Board Carpet edition Ecart Inter...
Eileen Gray, Ecart International
Vintage 1920s French Art Deco Western European Rugs
Wool
Eileen Gray Black Board Carpet edition Ecart International. Hand knotted carpets, made in 100% pure Virgin wool. 250 x 230 cm
Iconic Transat Chair by Eileen Gray, Manufactured by Aram, Late 20th Century
Iconic Transat Chair by Eileen Gray, Manufactured ...
Eileen Gray
Late 20th Century American American Classical Armchairs
Steel, Leather
Stunning Eileen Gray black leather Transat chair by Aram A stunning iconic designed Transat chair by Eileen Gray, manufactured by Aram, late 20th century, in black leather, with grey...
Eileen Gray Transat Lounge Chair by Ecart International, 1980s

By Eileen Gray, Ecart International
Eileen Gray Transat Lounge Chair by Ecart Internat...
Eileen Gray, Ecart International
Vintage 1980s French Mid-Century Modern Lounge Chairs
Metal, Leather, Wood
Black leather lounge chair by Eileen Gray Transat by Ecart International, 1980s. Black lacquered wood, brushed metal, black leather. Very good condition.
Eileen Gray Transat Chair, Ecart International Edition
Eileen Gray Transat Chair, Ecart International Edi...
Eileen Gray
1990s American Chairs
Steel, Leather
Eileen gray Transat chair, Ecart International Edition. Created in 1927 for the Villa E furnishing by Eileen Gray and re-edited by Andrée Putman / Ecart International. Structure in...
1927, Eileen Gray for ClassiCon, Floor Lamp Tube Lamp

By Eileen Gray, ClassiCon
1927, Eileen Gray for ClassiCon, Floor Lamp Tube L...
Eileen Gray, ClassiCon
Vintage 1920s English Mid-Century Modern Floor Lamps
Metal, Chrome
Eileen gray lamp. The floor lamp is in good condition, although the tube has some colored spots in the back from burning hours and the foot has traces of wear and some rusty like spots....
Desk Lamp by Eileen Gray for Jumo, France, circa 1940

By Eileen Gray, Jumo
Desk Lamp by Eileen Gray for Jumo, France, circa 1...
Eileen Gray, Jumo
Vintage 1940s French Mid-Century Modern Table Lamps
Metal, Brass
Beautiful desk lamp designed by Eileen Gray, manufactured by Jumo in France, circa 1940. This eye-catching Art Deco lamp is made of beautiful quality brass with black metal at the ba...
Eileen Gray Satellite Mirror

By Eileen Gray
Eileen Gray Satellite Mirror
Eileen Gray
2010s Modern Wall Mirrors
Brass, Glass
Eileen Gray created this satellite mirror for her home in the South of France, 1927. This is a current production made of nickel plated brass and glass. Illuminated portion has a sand b...
Eileen Gray Classicon Armchair, 1989

By Eileen Gray
Eileen Gray Classicon Armchair, 1989
Eileen Gray
Vintage 1980s British Armchairs
Leather
Designed by Eileen Gray, one of the most outstanding designers of her time, Bibendum is a chair reissued by Classicon that was originally designed for the furnishing of the villa E 1027...
Authorized Reproduction of Cabinet d’Architecte by Eileen Gray, circa 1925
Authorized Reproduction of Cabinet d’Architecte by...
Eileen Gray
20th Century European Cabinets
Maple
This piece is number 12 from the now-closed edition of 25. In 1925, only two examples were produced on the basis of Eileen Gray’s design. The first was in her apartment in rue Bonap...
Eileen Gray Set of 16 Dining Chairs in Leather

By Eileen Gray
Eileen Gray Set of 16 Dining Chairs in Leather
Eileen Gray
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Chairs
Steel, Leather
Set of 16 dining chairs, polished chromium plated tubular steel legs and frame and leather, 1960s (design 1927) Eileen Gray herself said that this design started as an exercise using v...
Eileen Gray, Pair of Transat Chairs by Andrée Putman, Ecart International

By Andrée Putman, Eileen Gray, Ecart International
Eileen Gray, Pair of Transat Chairs by Andrée Putm...
Andrée Putman, Eileen Gray, Ecart International
Vintage 1980s French Post-Modern Chaise Longues
Metal, Leather, Beech
Eileen gray (1879-1976). Pair of "Transat" chairs. First edition by Andrée Putman for Ecart International, France, 1978. Black lacquered wood, brushed metal, leather. Excellent ...
1940s Art Deco Desk Lamp by Eileen Gray for Jumo, France

By Eileen Gray, Jumo
1940s Art Deco Desk Lamp by Eileen Gray for Jumo, ...
Eileen Gray, Jumo
Vintage 1940s French Art Deco Table Lamps
Metal, Brass
A beautiful desk lamp from the 1940s era designed by Eileen Gray for Jumo of France. Constructed out of brass and metal with and adjustable shaft and hood. Lamp is fitted with Dual ligh...
Eileen Gray Desk Lamp for Jumo France Brass, 1940s

By Eileen Gray, Jumo
Eileen Gray Desk Lamp for Jumo France Brass, 1940s...
Eileen Gray, Jumo
Vintage 1940s French Mid-Century Modern Table Lamps
Metal, Brass
Eileen gray desk lamp for the French manufacturer jumo in the early 1940s. Adjustable arm and shade in black lacquered metal and brass. Two-light bayonet bulbs, switch is located on bas...
Eileen Gray Bibendum Club Chair for Classicon

By Eileen Gray, ClassiCon
Eileen Gray Bibendum Club Chair for Classicon
Eileen Gray, ClassiCon
Vintage 1920s German Modern Club Chairs
Leather, Metal
Famous and comfortable club chair in red leather. Signed with impressed manufacturer's mark and date.
Art Deco Desk Lamp By Eileen Gray

By Eileen Gray
Art Deco Desk Lamp By Eileen Gray
Eileen Gray
Vintage 1930s American Art Deco Table Lamps
Metal
Desk lamp designed by Eileen Gray, to 30-40, by JUNO.