Monday, 30 November 2009

The Bibendum chair by Eileen Grey is such an amazing piece of design, that has such a strong and inspiring form. Most people would think this piece only features in the furniture field of design. I believe it fits into many other categories like interior design.

In one of the books about Eileen Grey, I discovered that the Bibendum chair was included in a variety of interior spaces which also featured some of her other furnishings. The chair was originally designed for a millionaire, Madame Mathieu Lévy who was a highly successful boutique owner who sold stylish hats. She employed Eileen to redesign her flat in Paris, where Grey designed a collection of features including the Bibendum chair. When looking at the interior spaces within ‘apartment rue de Lota’ and ‘Villa E.1027’ I could see many different furnishings by Eileen grey which shows her breadth of design and how they all link with each other. In my opinion, this piece also falls underneath the sculpture field. When first researching the chair, I discovered that it was also designed to advertise and sell Michelin tyres. I would say that it is very sculptural. The reason for that being because of the Michelin man being a very 3D based icon. In the chair’s design I can see the style of Michelin within it very clearly through the distinctive layers of look- a- like tyres. In one of the sources I used, I discovered that Eileen deliberately incorporates sculpture into her other categories of design like furniture. Some might say that this piece is also giving an impression or symbolizing something. In some ways this could fall under the symbolism and impressionism area of craft. I was researching the chair in another source which surprised me tremendously. It stated that Eileen not only creates her work in a sculptural way, but more surprisingly in an architectural way. Although she was an architect as well as a designer, I didn’t expect that she would link the two fields together within her furniture design. I some ways I can understand why She incorporates her architecture into her other areas of design. In one of the books I studied I saw a few images of her architectural models, some of which appeared to have miniature furniture within them. One of which looked like the Bibendum chair. This clearly shows that this particular piece of furniture means a lot to her, and she is proud to use it in many different fields of design. This expresses that she also includes the other areas of design within her furniture and other categories.

In Conclusion, I have discovered that this piece falls under more fields of design then meets the eye. I believe that it is mainly within the furniture field of design but it does overlap some other areas of design.

I was saying earlier that Eileen grey includes sculpture and architecture ideas in her furniture designs. I t appears that she is not the only furniture designers who has used this idea. Mies van der Roche designed the Barcelona chair which has a very rigid edge to it. The rigid edge is also extremely evident in many of her buildings and models come to that.
Some may say that the bibendum chair is an extremely simple piece of design. Some may say too simple. But I believe that some simple designs have been given an extra feature to enhance their appearance. The reason for this thought is through one of the lectures I went to. In one of Mies van der Roches segram building there is some feature with the window design that really makes it look better. The saying is “God is in the details” which means you can create anything but you must add/ resolve its design by adding a feature to it. I believe that this action has been taken within the bibendum chair. I certainly think the symbolism of the Michelin tyres certainly gives a spark to the piece. Talking about the extra features which I think were added to this piece also brings up an important issue. There are two ways in which you can create a piece which are hand- made and machine- made. I think that this piece was originally built using both techniques which is a great balance. As technology is progressing more today, I would think that a greater percent of the work will be done by machine though. It is a shame because that excludes the uniqueness of the design and the hand of the known designer/ maker. Instead of the design being advertised by the maker it is owned by a corporation. Though this does mean that more will be produced in a far shorter space of time and it will be standardised. I mean if this happened within model- making then there would be no more hand- made craft left. Every area would be machine- based.

Adam, P. (1987). Eileen Gey: architect & designer. New York: Harry N. Abrams

Bibendum chair [online image] available from: [accessed on 15 October 2009]

Bibendum chair [online image] available from: [accessed on 15 October 2009]

Garner, P. (1993). Eileen Grey, Designer & architect. London: Taschen.

Rowlands, P. (2002). Eileen Grey. Canada: Raincast books.