Female icons

Remarkable women who have shaped the way we view furniture design

Eileen GrayKathleen Eileen Moray Smith9 August 1878 – 31 October 1976

“We must ask nothing of artists but to be of their own time” Eileen Gray

A pioneer of the Modern Movement, Eileen Gray was one of the first women to be admitted to the Slade School of Art in 1898. Influenced by both the Art Deco style and 1920s functionalism, she became a prominent figure in the furniture design industry during the 1920s and 30s, establishing herself as a leading designer of lacquered screens and decorative panels.

Eileen Gray was an Irish architect and furniture designer who became a pioneer of the Modern Movement in architecture. Over her career, she was associated with many notable European artists of her era, including Kathleen Scott, Adrienne Gorska, Le Corbusier, and Jean Badovici, with whom she was romantically involved. Her most famous work is the house known as E-1027 in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France.

Her father, James MacLaren Smith, was a Scottish landscape painter. He encouraged her interest in painting and drawing. Although only a minor figure, James corresponded with major artists of the day.

Gray split her upbringing between Brownswood House in Ireland and the family’s home at No.14 The Boltons, in Kensington, London.

Source: Wikipedia

Ray-BerniceRay-Bernice Alexandra Kaiser EamesDecember 15, 1912 – August 21, 1988

“Anything I can do, Ray can do better” Charles Eames

Ray Eames and her husband Charles were two of the most influential designers of the 20th Century. In partnership with Charles, Ray was responsible for ground breaking contributions in the fields of furniture, architecture, graphic design, textile design and film. The Eames Office is most famous for its furniture, notably their iconic chairs, which transformed our idea of modern furniture design and is still being made today. Together, the Eames’s are considered one of the most influential creative forces of the twentieth century.

The furniture they made was designed for purpose, this functional approach had been pioneered before the war by the Bauhaus, but the Eames’s made it mainstream.

During her lifetime, Ray Kaiser Eames was given notably less credit than she has been given posthumously in art and design literature, museum shows, and documentaries. It wasn’t only chauvinism, Ray’s contribution was a lot subtler, less overtly visible to the untrained eye. One of her most notable skills was to imbue Charles’ grand projects with a human touch.

Source: Wikipedia

Florence KnollFlorence Marguerite Knoll Bassett May 24, 1917 – January 25, 2019

“Good design is good business” Florence Knoll

Florence Knoll was an American architect, interior designer, furniture designer, and entrepreneur who has been credited with revolutionising office design in the 1950’s. Her modernist aesthetic, creating clear, uncluttered spaces which combined usability, space-saving functionality, comfort and style, revolutionised the way workplaces were designed and arranged.

Trained as an architect and designer, Knoll furthered her architectural educations under leading figures of the Bauhaus movement during 1940-1941. She joined the Hans G. Knoll Furniture Company in 1943, later marrying its Founder Hans. She and her husband, Hans Knoll, built Knoll Associates into a leader in the fields of furniture and interior design. She worked to professionalise the field of interior design, fighting against gendered stereotypes.

During her lifetime Knoll designed many iconic furniture pieces including the Florence Knoll Sofa. Her furniture was not only to be functional but also to designate the functions of interior space as well as relate to the architecture of the space and its overall composition. The distinctive features of Knoll’s furniture designs were their sleek silhouettes and clear geometries, reflecting her architectural training and interests.

Source: Wikipedia