Paul Dupré-Lafon - Design London Wednesday, April 26, 2023 | Phillips

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  • Widely heralded as one of the most prominent designers of the Art Deco movement, Paul Dupré-Lafon (1900-1971) has long been known for the refinement of his work. After completing his studies in painting at the École des Beaux-Arts de Marseille, Dupré-Lafon began his career as an interior designer in Paris. It was here that he quickly earned himself a reputation among an elite set of clientele for whom he designed the interiors of private residences and hotels; a prestigious duty that was to define his career over a span of five decades.


    The six lots offered here were commissioned directly from Dupré-Lafon, and the works are remarkable given that it is rare for a comprehensive collection of this sort to come to market. In his granddaughter Laure Tinel’s words, Dupré-Lafon always had the specificity of each client and space in mind; "practically all this furniture and or objects were designed and made for very specific interiors". Indeed, this consideration is evident throughout this collection, in that there is a certain stylistic unity that is achieved through the material and structural motifs of each piece.


    The residence for which these furnishings were commissioned, circa 1955.

    All six lots are imbued with Dupré-Lafon’s skill and aesthetic innovation. His designs are characterised by their eclecticism, simplicity, and detail; harmoniously marrying the ornamental luxury of Art Deco design with the functional aspects of mid-century modernism. While he was committed to producing clean lines and geometric forms, his designs were often executed in lavish materials such as leather, metal and rare wood. The present dining table (Lot 44) and the console (Lot 46) displayed a similar design. Here, Dupré-Lafon cultivates a striking, monumental spatial presence using powerful forms complete with splendid materials. In both works, strong curved legs of African mahogany seamlessly support travertine tabletops. Dupré-Lafon created this material contrast with the tactile experience of the user in mind. As Laure Tinel puts it; “In the work of Paul Dupré Lafon the ‘touch’ is essential... so there is always the notion of cold (stone - metal) and hot (wood - leather)”.


    The present dining table, armchairs, console and wall lights in the interior it was commissioned for, circa 1955.

    The materiality and structure of the dining table is complemented by the set of ten armchairs (Lot 45). The legs and arms of each are executed in warm African mahogany, expertly cut into sinuous curves, and complete with a subtly striped fabric upholstery and brass nail heads. In their configuration, these chairs possess a clear sensitivity towards the expressive effects of both positive and negative space.


    Punctuating this notion are the pair of wall-mounted wall lights (Lot 47) executed in painted steel, brass and paper. The lights are comprised of curved volumes and simple lines, which are exquisitely arranged into lattice designs. The works have an aerodynamic quality, illustrating Dupré-Lafon’s sensitivity towards the spatial power of minimal, geometric forms. As Tinel describes, “there is always ‘air’ in his creations”.


    Also on offer is an elegant coffee table (Lot 49), which is comprised of sumptuous patinated metal, bronze and marble. The geometric, angular forms of the legs are complete by the detailed design that extends around the perimeter of the tabletop. Similar considerations are evident in a pair of side tables (Lot 48) with tapered legs. While composed of minimal proportions and volumes, the tables are executed in oak with detailed accents in leather, brass and painted steel. Throughout the works, Dupré-Lafon achieves a sense of splendor through a balance of utility, spatial presence and material opulence.

    • Provenance

      Private collection, Belgium, commissioned directly from the designer, circa 1955
      Thence by descent to the present owner

    • Catalogue Essay

      This lot has been authenticated by the designer's rightsholder.


Dining table

circa 1955
Travertine, African mahogany, brass.
74.8 x 200.9 x 100.9 cm (29 1/2 x 79 1/8 x 39 3/4 in.)

Full Cataloguing

£50,000 - 70,000 Ω

Sold for £63,500

Contact Specialist

Antonia King
Head of Sale, Design
+44 20 7901 7944


London Auction 26 April 2023