In 1878, Eileen Gray was born into an aristocratic family in County Wexford, Ireland. She spent her time growing up between her family home in Ireland and their home in Kensington, London. In 1900, she became one of the first women admitted to Slade School in London. Then in 1902 she moved to Paris, where she lived and worked for most of her career. Gray became very popular for her lacquered furniture design created in a modernist style with clean lines and neutral colors. Eileen Gray was a revolutionary figure both for her unique designs that defied categorization, as well as for running her own gallery as a women in the 1920’s.
In Paris, Gray began studying under Seizo Sugawara, a Japanese lacquer master. Soon she became a well-established designer, appealing to the Art Deco style of the time with her decorative lacquered designs. In the 1920’s and ’30’s, she shifted her approach to furniture, employing modernist theories and materials such as chrome, steel, and glass. Gray utilized her own furniture designs in her interior design, and she later moved on to architectural design. Like her furniture, her buildings are sleek and modernist in style, featuring large windows and white facades. Her first house design, E-1027, was based on Le Corbusier’s “Fibe Points of the New Architecture”. In 1931, Gray began working on a new house, Tempe à Pailla. The house featured transformable designs with expandable wardrobes and furniture that folded into storage to create a more free flowing space.