Fascinated by traditional lacquerware technique, Irish furniture designer and pioneer Modern architect Eileen Gray (1878 – 1976), (related, on Socks) perfected her skills over many years in a series of room dividers, (or screens). The use of recessed piano-like hinges allowed the furnitures to be freely configured, in order to create shadowplay and rhythmic shapes. Her early prototypes adopted traditional Japanese black lacquer made from the resin of Rhus verniciflua or Rhus succedanea and directly applied to wood. She also experimented with natural red-brown, brilliant red or blue dyes, in order to obtain translucent effects. The works were accomplished through painstaking application of up to 40 coats of lacquer on wood (as in the case of her most famous work: the Brick Screen, a system of tiles hinged and connected internally).
As large and expensive as they were, the screens were naturally destined to the wealthy class of the early 1920’s.
Modern production of classic design by Eileen Gray here. A video showing process here.