Kathleen Eileen Moray Gray (August 9, 1878 – October 31, 1976) was an Irish furniture designer and architect. She is recognized as one of the most important designers and architects of the early 20th century.
She was born in to aristocratic family and was the youngest of five children, her parents Eveleen Pounden Gray and James Maclaren Gray, was of Scottish descent. Her father was a painter and he encouraged Eileen’s artistic interests. She studied at the Slade School for Fine Arts in London.
Later, in 1907 Eileen Gray settled in Paris, where she studied drawing, painting and the techniques of lacquer, the later she learned from Japanese artist Seizo Sougawara. Soon she became one of the leading designers of lacquered screens and decorative panels. In 1922 Eileen opened her own shop in Paris – Jean Desert, she also began to design interior and furniture.
In 1924 Eileen and architect Jean Badovici, started to work on the house named E-1027 near Monaco in southern France. Eileen designed most of the furniture for the house. One of her famous furniture designs was the circular glass E-1027 Table. The Museum of Modern Art has it in its permanent design collection since 1978.
Badocici’s friend Le Corbusier was very impressed with the house and built his own summerhouse on a neighboring lot near by. For many years the E-1027 house was in poor condition, but in 1999 it was bought by the state of France and the city of Roquebrune Cap Martin, but only recently has been restored.
In 1934 Eileen Gray built another house for herself – Tempe à Pailla, which has become an icon of modernist architecture.
She continued her work as a designer up until her death. Eileen Gray’s name was slowly fading away, until in early 1970 collector Robert Walker started buying up her designs. In 1973 Aram Designs, London, signed a worldwide contract to produce Eileen Gray’s designs.