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Eileen Gray (1878-1976) is today considered one of the most important architects and industrial designers of the early 20th century. As a woman in a male-dominated sector, she had a hard time. Her work received little attention throughout her life. Her exquisite work often met with the envy of other designers. She even accused the modernist genius Le Corbusier of having destroyed the walls of one of her architectural works.
She spent most of her career in France and was influenced by the modernist movement.
Among the classics this is perhaps the classic. Its ingenious and unmistakable shape has made this height-adjustable table one of the most popular design icons of the 20th century. It bears the name of the summer house E 1027, Maison en Bord de Mer en Roquebrune Cap Martin, which Eileen Gray built for herself and her lover Jean BadoviciLikewise, the secret code-name comes from her: E is for Eileen, 10 for Jean (J is the 10th letter of the alphabet), 2 for B(adovici) and 7 for G(ray).
It piques and provokes what one might expect of it, and yet it is inexplicably aesthetic and harmonious - a nonconformist on velvet paws. Eileen Gray commented quite pragmatically on her work with typical understatement: “An armrest was omitted in order to leave the body more freedom in movement and to allow it to bend forward or to turn to the other side unrestricted.” Seldom was a nonconformist more ready to talk.
Bibendum is a one of a kind. Nowhere in the history of design will one find an armchair that compares to this. It is captivatingly harmonious despite its size and unites a majestic impressiveness with charm and esprit like no other leather armchair. Eileen Gray underscored the character of her endearing parlour lion with twinkling irony, she named it after the Michelin man, whose form this armchair calls to mind.