Jean Prouvé - NOMAD x Phillips Paris Monday, September 28, 2020 | Phillips
  • Literature

    Renée Diamant, Lits isolés ou jumelés, dans L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui, September-October 1954, p. 36
    Peter Sulzer, Jean Prouvé: Œuvre Complète / Complete Works, Volume 3: 1944-1954, Basel, 2005, p. 167

  • Catalogue Essay

    Jean Prouvé, emblematic figure of the 20th century modernist adventure, was at once an architect, engineer, constructor and designer. He found his inspiration in metal, notably steel, whether stamped, folded, ribbed or welded. Having started in wrought iron (a practice that yielded remarkable staircases, lamps, elevator gates, ironworked doors) he turned quickly towards architectural construction after having discovered the wielding of stainless steel. He began rubbing shoulders with those at the forefront of design and architecture and became actively involved with figures such as Robert Mallet-Stevens, Le Corbusier, Rene Herbst and Charlotte Perriand during the daring adventure of the Union of Modern Artists, whose goal was to dust off the Decorative Arts and resolutely turn towards the future.

    Jean Prouve’s main idea was that of the principle of construction, that “there is no difference between the construction of a house and that of a piece of furniture.” His buildings, like his furniture, expose their systems of articulation and assembly, revealing the opposing forces exerted against each other, such as the legs of his standard chair “in the form of equal resistance”, designed not to break when it swings. He would apply this “principle of construction” to all the furniture designed between 1930 and the middle of the 1950s, as well as to many buildings designed at that time made from prefabricated elements in series. He derived the qualities of metal into a number of ingenious findings such as shells, shed roofs, porticos, crutches and wall façades that made him famous; and so we owe to him the famous Maison du Peuple in Clichy (1938), the façade of the Grand Palace of the Lille Fair (1950) and the structure of the Aluminium Centennial Pavilion (1954), but also the standard houses of Meudon, and a number of other prefabricated houses, gas stations, factories, schools and snack bars.

  • Artist Biography

    Jean Prouvé

    French • 1901 - 1984

    Jean Prouvé believed in design as a vehicle for improvement. His manufactory Les Ateliers Jean Prouvé, located in Nancy, France, produced furniture for schools, factories and municipal projects, both within France and in locations as far flung as the Congo. Though he designed for the masses, pieces such as his "Potence" lamps and "Standard" chairs are among the most iconic fixtures in sophisticated, high-design interiors today. Collectors connect with his utilitarian, austere designs that strip materials down to the bare minimum without compromising on proportion or style.

    Prouvé grew up in Nancy, France, the son of Victor Prouvé, an artist and co-founder of the École de Nancy, and Marie Duhamel, a pianist. He apprenticed to master blacksmiths in Paris and opened a small wrought iron forge in Nancy. However it was sheet steel that ultimately captured Prouvé's imagination, and he ingeniously adapted it to furniture, lighting and even pre-fabricated houses, often collaborating with other design luminaries of the period, such as Robert Mallet-Stevens, Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand.

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S.C.A.L. daybed

circa 1954
Lacquered metal, fabric upholstery.
41 x 188 x 80 cm (16 1/8 x 74 x 31 1/2 in.)
Manufactured by Les Ateliers Jean Prouvé, France and issued by Steph Simon, Paris, France.

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NOMAD x Phillips

Virtual Destination 28 September - 11 October 2020