Eileen Gray underscored the character of her endearing parlour lion with twinkling irony, she named it after the Michelin man, whose form this armchair calls to mind. Though the design may sound unpromising, the chair – in-keeping with Gray’s design philosophy – is subtly subversive and was fashioned with a good measure of whimsy. It is this self-knowingness that deflects claims that the chair is too bulky and unrefined. Far from imminent collapse, the legs and base of the chair are super strong and reliable. To finish the effect, the elephantine arms and back-rest counterpoint this slim bottom arrangement with a cute sense of irony.The Bibendum may not immediately please the eye, but it certainly intrigues and, moreover, consummately accomplishes what the designer hoped to achieve when she set-out on the design – it is welcoming and comfortable. It is the sense of the humbleness of the designer's motivation coupled with the audacity of its execution that has made the chair a modernist classic. At once ironic and earnest, the Gray Bibendum design remains a mainstay of the modernist oeuvre as a testament to the designer's gift for "turning the practical into the poetic", as Colin St John Wilson, designer of the British library and a Gray admirer, has noted.