Eileen Gray Rugs: new designs inspired by her artwork
Inspired by gouache paintings created by Eileen Gray, Aram are proud to introduce four new rug designs - De Stijl, Monolith, Cassis and La Lune - into the wider Eileen Gray collection as a part of London Design Festival 2023.
Eileen Gray (1878-1976), born in Ireland in 1878, spent her early years in London, and was one of the first women admitted to the Slade School of Art in 1898. Her artistic journey led her to Paris in 1902, where, having honed her skills in Japanese lacquer work, she swiftly emerged as a prominent designer specialising in lacquered screens and ornamental panels. In the 1920s and 1930s, she played a pivotal role in championing innovative design , collaborating closely with influential figures of the Modernist movement, including J.J.P. Oud, Le Corbusier, and Pierre Jeanneret; luminaries whose names have since become synonymous with the realm of Modern design.
Gray is primarily recognised as a designer and architect renowned for her iconic furniture pieces and the creation of two notable homes: Villa E-1027 and Tempe à Pailla on the Côte d'Azur in France. As a pioneering Modernist, she displayed a groundbreaking approach to form, line, colour, material, and texture. Her work bears traces of influences from the movements of Cubism, De Stijl, and Surrealism, yet it possesses a distinctive and unique character. While she has achieved cult status in the fields furniture design and architecture, it is essential to note that Gray began her artistic journey as a painter and she continued to engage in painting, drawing, collage creation, and object-making throughout her remarkably long life.
Gray was an artist that transcended the traditional medium of painting, she blurred artistic boundaries, intentionally disregarding the entrenched divide between fine art and functional design. This is clear in her rug designs, which are inspired by her gouache paintings and collages. Initially, her rug designs included figurative elements, but they progressively transitioned into more abstract and geometric forms, as seen in the designs of Castellar (above) and Blue Marine (below) for example. These images also illustrate the transition between artwork to rug design.
Aram Designs Ltd has held the Worldwide head license for Gray's designs since 1973. In partnership with our sub-licensee ClassiCon, and inspired by Gray's artistic vision, we have created four new designs: De Stijl, Cassis, La Lune, and Monolith (below), to join the existing collection of Gray’s rugs. Like the earlier rugs, Gray’s artwork created during the 1920s and 1930s forms the basis of the composition. Careful attention and consideration were deployed when translating the artworks into rugs to ensure that they represent Gray in every aspect and maintain the integrity of her work.
The new rugs champion Gray’s artistic prowess, each representing her ability to harmonise colour, line and form. De Stijl displays influence from the Dutch art movement of the same name, an inspiration seen in other pieces designed by Gray such as the De Stijl side table. Cassis and La Lune present a spectacular layering of deep, rich warm tones and geometrics. Finally, Monolith is a manifestation of Gray’s aptitude for line and form, featuring both horizontal and vertical lines that cleanly carve out a dark grey background.
All of the rugs are made from durable 100% hand-spun New Zealand virgin wool, with eighty knots per square inch (6.45 cm2). Virgin wool is both biodegradable and a renewable resource. The colour pigments used are environmentally friendly and tested according to OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100. ClassiCon works closely with Label STEP in the Artisan Villages of Nepal's Sarlahi region to manufacture all of their rugs, including the full Eileen Gray collection. Label STEP, a non-profit organisation, is committed to ensuring fair working and living conditions for the individuals employed in these production areas. Moreover, they exclusively employ environmentally friendly methods for rug manufacturing, emphasising sustainability and responsible production practices.
You can view the new rug designs in a special display on our first floor during the London Design Festival 2023. The installation celebrates Gray's lasting influence showcasing the rugs alongside furniture and lighting by Eileen Gray, as well as key pieces from our wider collection.
Photography by Ollie Tomlinson.