Not the right title for such a beautiful, talented and graceful woman - but I couldn't resist. I've harked after an Eileen Gray table ever since I first saw one. So, on a quick jaunt to Paris last weekend it felt serendipitous that posters were plastered all over town for her retrospective at the Pompidou.
Her work still feels fresh and new some eighty years later. I admire her manner and talent, her intellect and pioneering spirit - and that table. That simple, refined, sculptural chrome and glass table that is entirely timeless. It's perfect. To inspire both modernism and Art Deco? To paint, to make rugs, furniture, houses, fabrics, chrome and glass and wood and leather.
Also - further reading on the house E.1027 she built on the French Riviera. I love how she describes this home.
"Gray took issue with Le Corbusier's dictum that "the house is a machine to live in". Rather, she described the house as a living organism, an extension of the human experience, stating that it is not "a matter of simply constructing beautiful ensembles of lines, but above all, dwellings for people."
"Formulas are nothing," she insisted. "Life is everything, and life is simultaneously mind and heart."
Things that make my heart glow: these beautiful thoughts, falling in love very slowly after a very long time not falling in love with anything at all, the blossoms that are blossoming, walking to work without a hat or gloves and not feeling my bones ache with cold. Seeing paintings by Yves Klein and Cy Twombly and Gerhard Richter in real, glorious life NOT on the internet, confined by screen. They are luminous and huge and I love that I didn't know, that I cried and felt like my chest might explode even though I am 28 and have seen "art" before it was different and special and there is only going to be more, in the future, and I am so excited about the future today.
On 'deep archiving'. I like the Buckminster Fuller connection (I am quite partial to a geodesic dome) but cannot comprehend for the life of me the need for deep archiving. I feel so overwhelmed by content and words and data that creating more, in a more detailed fashion seems mad.
Do you feel this way too? Do you feel laden, eyes agog, slack jawed with more pictures, more words, constantly more. Sometimes, I want less, fewer, to turn off, delete apps, unsubscribe, unlike, unfollow. I want to be quiet and to make things with my hands. How are new thoughts created when so much of our work is based on referencing, case studies, quoting and "curating"?
Moving from being freelance to working in an agency again has been challenging, interesting and brain stretching. I like it, and I'm happy. It's not without scary moments though - and it's nice to have the support of some amazing women as I navigate it all. Here's the best email I've ever received, edited for brevity. I suggest you print it out if you ever have stressful moments at work, and I also suggest you read Lean In.
"You can do this, and you know you can. Do it your way. Not the way you think others do it. The Nat way. The new way, the new generation way."
"You can run a meeting, it's just like running a dinner party. It's you putting the meal out and checking the oven and telling someone to pass something and running the dialogue and chat. You can do this in a meeting easy easy easy! Always — common respect and always walk in with shoulders back and always sit up straight."
"You have been running people and ideas and being beyond the trend and setting trends and business adventures for ever. You know how to do this with your eyes closed, you are forging forward to surpass everybody, to get what you want and how you want it in your own elegant, classy way and with this commanding respect as you do it."
"Laugh. At the end of the day, who cares if you miss an interview, balls up a figure, creative idea, who really cares. No one when you look back in four months, no one. And when you need advice and don't know, just say, I am not sure about this - what would you do? We are never meant to know everything, most things, yes, but not everything."
"Some weekends, work all weekend to catch up. It will make the week less stressy and you'll feel better. There will always be parties, and always be brunches. Sometimes, one weekend smashing it out is all you need to get up to date."
"Keep thinking of where you want to be - seniority and success gives you freedom and no one can buy that. Be creative, be driven and keep free and smiling."
"We are not girls PEOPLE that are going to sit in suburbs and moan our life away. We are going to sit in beautiful houses with beautiful husbands and fly round the world making people feel, making money while we do it, wearing Lanvin and Celine and Dries and Levis, with sweet, sweet art on the wall, a beautiful man by our side, beautiful friends, creative people, parties, beautiful kids, all running around in some crazy chaos."
"We might wonder why we do it, but we know why. We just can't not! It's what we're destined to do."
"And if all the above doesn't help instantly, I often find going into the bathroom, locking the door, taking deep breaths..and then walking out feeling better often helps. Call it the brown paper bag moment."