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Icon: Eileen Gray (1878-1976)

Irish architect and interior and textile designer Eileen Grays career spanned more than 50 years and yielded some of the most iconic residences and furniture pieces of the era, most notably the Bibendum chair and E-1027, a villa she created as her residence in the South of France. The table she designed for the villa, known by the same name, is arguably her most famous piece. E-1027 was a particular fixation for the noted architect and Gray supporter Le Corbusier, who drowned in the sea beneath it in 1965. In the early 1920s, Gray opened Jean Dsert, the Parisian show room and gallery where she displayed her own lacquered furniture and textile designs (which she executed with a friend, lesbian Evelyn Wyld). The openly bisexual Gray worked, socialized (and sometimes slept) alongside Parisian societys most notable lesbians including the artist Romaine Brooks, the singer Marisa Damia, and dance pioneer Loie Fuller (who introduced Paris to the talents of a young Isadora Duncan). Though fairly reclusive, she made an exception for, and was regularly seen throughout her life at, the famed Paris sapphic salons run by socialite Natalie Barney and Gertrude Stein. By 1930 she had opted to focus entirely on her architecture and created residences mostly in the south of France until 1958, when her poor eyesight made it impossible to continue. Gray died in her apartment in Paris in 1976. Send a letter to the editor about this article.
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