Eileen Gray was an Irish furniture designer and architect and a pioneer of the Modern Movement in architecture. Elegant, intelligent and independent, Gray’s nonconformist and brilliant mind led her to a uniquely creative life at the turn of the century in Paris. In Paris, she studied drawing, painting and, drawn to the austerity of the material, the techniques of lacquer. She also began to design furniture and interiors.
Gray’s first interior design commission came in 1919, a project for which she developed her famous lacquered block screens. After 1927, Gray worked primarily as an architect, designing a modernist house for herself as well as appropriately minimalist furniture. She also exhibited several architectural projects at Le Corbusier’s “Pavillion des Temps Nouveaux” in 1937.
Following that exhibition, Gray’s name faded quietly away until 1970 when collector Robert Walker began buying up her designs and Do-mus magazine published a retrospective of her work. After 30 years of obscurity, the importance of Gray’s work was again acknowledged. Today, she is recognized as one of the finest designers and architects of her day and pieces like the Eileen Gray Table have become icons of modern design.
Photo: E-1027, Roquebrune, Cap Martin
“I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.”
Zaha Hadid is an Iraqi-British architect and the first woman to win the prestigious Pritzker Prize for Architecture. Known for using complex technologies to create fluid, curvilinear forms, Hadid has defined a radically new approach to architecture. She creates buildings with multiple perspective points and fragmented geometry to evoke the chaos of modern life.
Well-known projects include the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati, Ohio; MAXXI: National Museum of 21st Century Art in Rome, Italy; the BMW Central Building in Leipzig, Germany; and the Phaeno Science Center in Wolfsburg, Germany.
By transcending the realm of paper architecture to the built form, Hadid has earned the respect of critics and skeptics and seen innovative, large-scale designs come to life around the world. Her single-mindedness and unwillingness to compromise has pushed the limits of her creativity and cemented her reputation as one of the world’s most exciting and significant contemporary architects working today.
Guangzhou Opera House, China
Maxxi Museum, Rome