#Eileen_Gray: Pioneer of Design, December 1972 | Thinkpiece | Architectural Review
Joseph Rykwert introduces the work of Eileen Gray in this piece from December 1972, prior to the opening of an exhibition of her work at the Heinz Gallery
Eileen Gray was born in Ireland (Enniscorthy, Co Wexford) in 1879. She spent her childhood in London, and went as a student to the Slade in 1898 or thereabouts. Her father was a painter, so that the idea of painting and of drawing came quite naturally. Towards the end of her days at the Slade, she came by chance on the sign for a lacquer workshop in Dean Street:
‘I went upstairs and I saw that they were making things in lacquer. They were using both Chinese and European lacquer. I asked the owner if I could work there and he said: “Yes, of course. you can start on Monday.” Just like that! I found it very interesting. and the foreman was very kind. I went on seeing them and corresponding with them for many years.’
While at the Slade. she also went to Paris ‘for a few days with some friends’. But she found it very congenial and returned often. After the Slade, she worked a great deal drawing, mostly at Colorossi’s in the Grande Chaumiere; she also found a studio in the rue Joseph Barras, but continued travelling between Paris and London.