Pierre Paulin – French Furniture Designer

Posted on 2nd August 2011 in French Designers, Furniture Designers

Tulip Chair

Pierre Paulin was a French furniture designer who was known for his exuberant use of color and materials with designs that challenged the notion of imaginative and whimsical. Chairs shaped like mushrooms and tongues captured the interest of the modern furniture world, former French Presidents Georges Pompidou and Francois Mitterrand and the contemporary furniture world alike. While his creations adorned the palaces of presidents he brought high design to the masses with pieces that utilized modern day plastics and organic metamorphic shapes and volumes. Born in Paris on July 9, 1927, he was influenced by modern furniture designers Charles and Ray Eames and the simple yet powerful use of lines in Japanese drawing. His time spent studying stone carving and clay modeling at the Ecole Camondo in Paris in the early 1950’s helped to inform his sense of sculptural design. This experience became apparent as he began designing modern furniture. Minimalist by design, his seeming inexhaustible ability to create the most unusual chairs is one of his signature marks. Chairs such as the “Flower Flume”, is delicately wrapped with a semi-sheer material with a seemingly floating seat base. Softly rounded it seems almost ethereal. With comfort in mind as well, he designed the “Pumpkin Seating” that begs for a good curl up in or the “Ribbon Chair” that seems to be perilously perched atop a base. Not at a loss for unusual names for his contemporary furniture pieces, the “Tongue Chair”, 1967, simple in design rolls like words off the tongue with soft undulating curves. Touching the floor delicately in two locations, it is a low to the floor conversation piece. The “Mushroom Chair” speaks for itself as an iconic piece of modern furniture design. Shaped more like the deflated top half of a mushroom, it is soft and inviting in a soft half circular form. Covered in upholstered fabric over a tubular steel frame, it is included in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. And of course there is one of his most famous chairs, the “Orange Slice” chair. Designed in 1960, it consists of beech shells covered in upholstery and resting upon a minimalist steel frame. Its unique design allows for it to transform as the piece is viewed from different angles, Colorful and timeless, it is a testament to contemporary furniture that good design endures. Bringing together the best of both worlds of form and function it remains as popular today as it was then.

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