Eileen Gray Biography: Life, Career, Success, Wealth & Net Worth

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Eileen Gray
NameEileen Gray
BirthdateAugust 9, 1878
BirthplaceEnniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland
OccupationDesigner, Architect, Artist
Famous WorksDragon armchair, E-1027 house, Bibendum chair
Design StyleArt Deco, International Style
Key AccomplishmentsPioneering female designer in a male-dominated field, designed iconic furniture and buildings, influenced modernist architecture
Death DateOctober 31, 1976

Eileen Gray was an Irish-born designer and architect who was one of the most influential figures in 20th century modern design. Born in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland on 9 August 1878, Gray was educated at the Slade School of Art in London, after which she studied lacquer art in Paris. She later became a leading designer of furniture, carpets and ornaments, as well as an accomplished architect.

Her early work in Gray was heavily influenced by the Art Deco movement and was known for her geometric shapes and bold use of color. Her most famous piece of furniture is the Art Deco ‘Dragons’ armchair, designed in 1917 and considered a masterpiece of her design. She also designed tables, screens and lamps, as well as various other chairs.

During the 1920s and her 1930s, Gray turned her attention to architecture, designing many modernist homes in France. Her most famous architectural work is her E-1027 house which she co-designed with her partner Jean Her Badovic. Completed in 1929, House Her E-1027 is considered a landmark of modern architecture and still stands today.
Despite her many accomplishments, Gray struggled with financial insecurity throughout her life. She was often underpaid for her work and did not get the recognition she deserved until later in her career. are exhibited in major museums around the world.

Gray died on October 31, 1976 at the age of 98. While she struggled with her wealth during her lifetime, her designs have since ranked her among the most valuable in the world. In 2009, a chair she designed sold at auction for her $28 million, setting a new record as the most expensive piece of furniture sold in the 20th century. Today, her legacy continues to inspire designers and architects around the world.

Here is a timeline of Eileen Gray’s life and career:

  • 1878: Eileen Gray is born on August 9th in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland.
  • 1898: Gray moves to London to study painting at the Slade School of Fine Art.
  • 1900: Gray moves to Paris to continue her studies and becomes interested in lacquer work.
  • 1907-1913: Gray studies Japanese lacquer techniques with Seizo Sugawara in London and then opens her own lacquer workshop in Paris.
  • 1917: Gray designs the iconic “Dragons” armchair, which becomes a symbol of Art Deco design.
  • 1922: Gray opens a furniture store in Paris called “Jean Désert” and begins designing furniture and decorative objects for the store.
  • 1924: Gray begins work on her first architectural project, a holiday home in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin in the south of France.
  • 1926: Gray meets Jean Badovici, a Romanian architect and critic, and the two become romantic partners and collaborators on several architectural projects.
  • 1929: Gray and Badovici complete the E-1027 house in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, which becomes a landmark of modern architecture.
  • 1937: Gray exhibits her work at the World’s Fair in Paris.
  • 1940-1944: Gray and Badovici’s relationship ends, and Gray retreats from public life during World War II.
  • 1968: A French design magazine publishes an article about Gray and her work, sparking renewed interest in her designs.
  • 1972: Gray is awarded the Royal Society of Arts’ Gold Medal for Design.
  • 1976: Gray dies on October 31st at the age of 98.
  • 2009: A chair designed by Gray sells at auction for $28 million, setting a record for the most expensive piece of 20th century furniture ever sold.
  • 2013: The E-1027 house undergoes a major restoration and reopens to the public for tours.

Here are five interesting facts about Eileen Gray:

  1. Gray’s Dragon armchair, designed in 1917, was a groundbreaking piece of furniture, combining the sleek lines of Art Deco with the fluid curves of Art Nouveau.
  2. Gray was an early adopter of modernist architecture, designing the E-1027 house with her partner Jean Badovici in 1929. The house is considered a masterpiece of the International Style.
  3. Gray was not recognized as a major designer until late in life, and she struggled financially for much of her career. At one point, she sold some of her furniture designs to Le Corbusier without receiving credit for them.
  4. Gray was a prolific designer and artist, experimenting with a range of materials and techniques, including lacquer work, embroidery, and metalwork.
  5. Gray was openly bisexual, and had relationships with several women throughout her life.

And here are five quotes from Eileen Gray:

  1. “To create, one must first question everything.”
  2. “Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced.”
  3. “The most important thing in life is to be true to oneself.”
  4. “The house is a machine for living in.”
  5. “The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich.”

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