Before changing the channel on the 4th hour of the Today show I caught a clip of Hoda and Kathy Lee discussing the recent sale of an Eileen Gray chair at a 2-day Christie’s auction from the collection of Yves Saint Laurent. Gray’s Dragon’s Chair (or Serpent armchair as I’ve also seen it called) sold for a whopping $28 Million dollars!
I have to say this in not one of my favorite pieces by Gray so I can understand the surprise and shock that many people had by the high price it fetched (for the looks alone). But what really got me was when Kathy Lee quipped: “She can’t be that famous, I’ve never heard of her!”. Oh dear, dear Kathy Lee, it is unfortunate that you haven’t and that your producers didn’t do a quick bit of research on the subject. I personally learned of Eileen Gray in my first week of design school. I even did a project inspired by her work.
Eileen Gray (1878-1976) was a pioneer for women in a field dominated by such famous men as Mies van der Rohe and LeCorbusier. Gray ran in their circle and was a self-taught architect. She is probably best known for her chrome-and-glass adjustable table which retails at Design Within Reach and was designed in 1927.
Some of her other famous pieces include the Transat Chair:
And the Bibendum Chair:
Sometimes I think I forget to appreciate the women that paved the way in the design and architecture industry for many of us. We wouldn’t be sittin’ pretty today if it weren’t for these strong-willed and talented women who weren’t afraid to “run with the boys”! So Thank You Eileen Gray!!
If you’d like to read more about the life and work of Eileen Gray I recommend this book by Peter Adam (I own it!):