Jean Prouvé - Design New York Tuesday, December 7, 2021 | Phillips

    Designed in 1934, the C.P.D.E. chair was an early triumph for French architect and designer Jean Prouvé. That year, the Compagnie Parisienne de Distribution d'Électricité (Paris Electricity Distribution Company) announced a competition for the interior furnishings of their offices. Surpassing proposals by larger, more established studios, the Ateliers Prouvé secured the commission, submitting approximately 130 designs, including armchairs, cupboards, wall partitions, and even radiator covers, in addition to perspective plans for the office.


    Design drawing of the present model armchair, circa 1934.
    Design drawing of the present model armchair, circa 1934.

    The C.P.D.E. chair has justly become the most enduring work from this project; it not only foregrounded later designs by Prouvé, but it also helped to establish the visual vocabulary of twentieth-century office furniture. Trained in the arts of iron, Prouvé devised a chair with an entirely metal skeleton, its hind and front legs rendered in sheet and tubular steel, respectively. Three years before his death in 1984, Prouvé remarked on the C.P.D.E. chair: “…this chair has quality, it’s very comfortable…you see, very early on we started making furniture like that.” The C.P.D.E. chair remains among the rarest Prouvé models, with approximately 120 produced for the 1934 commission.

    • Provenance

      Jousse Entreprise, Paris
      Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2008

    • Literature

      "L'Équipement de l'habitation," L'Architecture d'aujourd'hui, January 1939, p. 44
      Peter Sulzer, Jean Prouvé: Œuvre complète / Complete Works, Volume 2: 1934-1944, Basel, 2000, pp. 74, 77-79
      Galerie Patrick Seguin, Jean Prouvé, Volume 1, Paris, 2017, pp. 140-43, 162

    • 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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Property of an International Collector, Curated by Joseph Dirand


Rare "C.P.D.E." armchair

circa 1934
Painted steel, suede upholstery.
31 1/2 x 25 3/4 x 22 3/4 in. (80 x 65.4 x 57.8 cm)

Full Cataloguing

$40,000 - 60,000 

Sold for $50,400

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New York Auction 7 December 2021