Jean Prouve – French Furniture Designer

Posted on 13th October 2011 in French Designers

Chairs by Jean ProuveJean Prouve Born in 1901 to an artistic father, Victor Prouvé director of the Art School of Nancy in France, Jean Prouve was exposed to the tenets of the school which promoted making art accessible linking to industry and social awareness.  Primarily interested in working with metals, he first apprenticed to Émile Robert, a blacksmith and then with Szabo, another metal craftsman completing his education by attending , engineering school in Nancy.

Feeling confident to go out on his own, he opened the first of several studios in 1923 producing metal art pieces such as chandeliers, wrought iron lamps and furniture particularly chairs. He did not use the steel tube technique championed by many of the modern furniture designers of this time but rather embraced the use of sheet metal. He helped to establish the Union of Modern Artists in 1930 whose main tenets focused on logic, balance and purity.

With a solid training in high quality craftsmanship and artistic, intellectual principles; his work reflected this background with intriguing yet immensely affordable and practical furniture. A self taught architect interested in industrial design, he was particularly interested in producing architecture and furniture that allowed for portability.

Ateliers Jean Prouve was opened in 1931. Successful, he collaborated with Eugène Beaudoin, Les Corbusier and Marcel Lods, architects and Charlotte Perriand and Pierre Jeanerette, furniture designers.  The Ateliers were modern design laboratories that constantly pushed the envelope to design and produce furnishings and prefabricated buildings on an industrial scale.

During the war his business survived by manufacturing bicycles and a survival stove eventually being commissioned by the Reconstruction Ministry to provide refugee frame houses on a massive scale. This interest in affordable mobile architecture continued with his exploration of utilizing aluminum to produce sheds for Africa as well for homes, a pavilion and a façade of a restaurant. Collaborating with Jean Dimitrijevic, they designed the Musée des Beaux Arts du Havre comprised of aluminum, steel and glass winning the Reynolds prize in 1962.

As one of the most influential of modern furniture designers, he strove to maximize constructability and minimize designing simply for the sake of design. The Standard Chair, 1934 and the Visiteur Lounge were classic examples of his design ideas. The Compass desk and the Bibliotechque are examples of his playful yet practical experimentation with sparsity of form and interlocking, horizontal volumes.   The bookshelf made of pine and mahogany, was designed in collaboration with Charles Perriand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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