Eileen Gray: Her Work and Her World


Jennifer Goff

November 2014

The most comprehensive biography of Irish-born Eileen Gray – architect, photographer, interior and furniture designer – one of the most influential designers of the twentieth century. Gray’s philosophy, world and work is presented through stunning images and rarely seen material from the collection at the National Museum of Ireland.




The renowned and highly influential architect, furniture-maker, interior designer and photographer Eileen Gray was born in Ireland and remained throughout her life an Irishwoman at heart. An elusive figure, her interior world has never before been observed as closely as in this ground-breaking study of her work, philosophy and inner circle of fellow artists.

Jennifer Goff expertly blends art history and biography to create a stunning ensemble, offering a clear beacon of light into truly understanding Gray – the woman and the professional. Gray was a self-taught polymath and her work was multi-functional, user-friendly, ready for mass production yet succinctly unique, and her designs show great technical virtuosity. Her expertise in lacquer work and carpet design, often overlooked, is given due attention in this book, as is her fascinating relationship with the architect Le Corbusier and many other compelling and complex relationships. The book also offers rare insights into Gray’s early years as an artist.

The primary source material for this book is drawn from the Eileen Gray collection at the National Museum of Ireland and its wealth of documentation, correspondence, personal archives, photographs and oral history.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: From Ireland to Paris
Chapter 2: A Moveable Feast: Stephen Haweis, Students and Paris
Chapter 3: The Artist: Painting, Sculpture, Photography
Chapter 4: The Realm of Lacquer
Chapter 5: Knotting and Weaving: Eileen Gray’s Carpet Design
Chapter 6: Engaging the Senses: Eileen Gray and Furniture
Chapter 7: ‘A House is not a Machine’: Eileen Gray’s Domestic Architecture
Chapter 8: Stories from Dominica and beyond: Gray, Haweis and the Collage at E1027
Chapter 9: A Tale of Two Houses: Eileen Gray and Le Corbusier
Chapter 10: For the People: Social and Cultural Architecture
Chapter 11: A Kindred Spirit: The Prunella Clough Letters
Chapter 12: Longing for Home: Ireland and Her Later Years

About the Author
Dr Jennifer Goff is Curator of Furniture, Silver & the Eileen Gray collection at the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, Dublin, and is one of the world’s leading experts on Gray’s work and legacy.

Praise for Eileen Gray: Her Work and Her World

‘This lushly illustrated biography is a long overdue revision of the enigmatic Irish artist’s life and work … Goff’s book has raised the bar and at last provided a long-overdue revision of the life and work of Eileen Gray. Extensively illustrated, the book is as much a must-have addition to any coffee-table collection as a definitive biography.’
Mary McGuckian, The Irish Times

‘This new book, the first on Gray by an Irish author, written by the curator of the Eileen Gray Collection at the NMI, is a very detailed exposition of Gray’s life and of her work, project by project, richly illustrated with black and white archival photographs and attractive new colour photographs. The primary source material is drawn from the collection and its wealth of documentation, correspondence, original works and photographs. Running to over 500 pages, substantial yet compact, and nicely designed, this book is very good value for its very moderate price.’
Paul Larmour, Irish Arts Review