Thoroughly Modern Eileen

Eileen Gray music Dacha Band
A modern armchair designed by Eileen Gray in the V&A Museum

The work and life of acclaimed Irish modernist designer and architect Eileen Gray – originally from Enniscorthy in Wexford – has been put to music and song in a new album.

Eileen Gray music Dacha Band

The Soul of the Machine by the Dacha Band covers the accomplishments of Gray and her attitude towards designing.

Thought to be the first record dedicated entirely to the life of an architect, it was released on 9 August to coincide with Gray’s birthday. Written and produced by Stuart Maye- Banbury, the album carries a folk and blues sound and examines the key junctures of Gray’s existence – almost from birth to death.

The Rain and the Snow focuses on the architect’s childhood home in Brownswood, Enniscorthy, County Wexford. Her emigration to Paris and her experiences there are explored in The Corners of the Day, while, imagining Gray as an older woman, the listener is invited to appreciate her imagined reflection in Passenger in Time.

As well as looking at the defining moments in her life, the album draws on her general attitude towards creativity in the title track and her oblique attitude towards her sexuality in Driving with Damia.

Eileen Gray music Dacha Band
Kathleen Eileen Moray Gray (1878-1976), furniture designer, architect, and pioneer of architecture’s Modern Movement

Mr Maye-Banbury explained that the inspiration behind the album was to discover more about such a fascinating character, but one who often withdrew herself from society. He said the challenge was made greater, and more exciting, by the fact that, since Gray wanted to be remembered solely for her body of work, she destroyed nearly all of her personal papers.

“Gray found true meaning in the act of creation. She was by no means a recluse, but, let down by the failings of others, she increasingly sought privacy during the course of a long, fruitful life,” he said. “Her own writings concerning herself are sparse but nonetheless telling. It was these fragments that became the pathway into the writing of The Soul of the Machine.”

Gray, died aged 98 in 1976, and was best known for her chrome and glass adjustable occasional table, the Michelin Man-inspired Bibendum chair and the enigmatically-named E.1027 – an acclaimed modernist seaside villa in Roquebrune Capmartin on France’s Côte d’Azur.

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