Gray’s Department Store

LWD Chicago: November 2015 

The Department of Curiosities presents a shop-able installation by members of the League of Women Designers (LWD). Curated by Eve Fineman, the show draws on the golden age of department stores with sections for housewares, lighting, furniture, clothing, jewelry, handbags and lingerie.

The show’s name references Eileen Gray, a touchstone for the LWD group. Gray was a pioneer of modernist design; an architect and designer of furniture, textiles and interiors. Her influential works in the 1920s and 30s were largely overlooked in her time and the importance of her legacy remains unrecognized to this day. One of her most innovative works, the Villa E-1027 house, for instance, was first attributed to her lover, Jean Badovice, and was later defaced by the most famous architect of her day, Le Corbusier.

Gray’s point of view is particularly relevant to the show’s philosophy. She believed in the “dwelling as a living organism,” a holistic approach to design that put the experience of living at the center. “It is not a matter of simply constructing beautiful ensembles of lines, but above all, dwellings for people,” She brought a much needed sensuality and beauty to the modernist movement that feels fresh to this day.