jean prouvé

French industrial designer, architect and engineer Jean Prouvé (April 8, 1901 – March 23, 1984) whose work blurred the line.
Somewhere between the mathematical and the aesthetic, he is perhaps best remembered for his solid yet agile furniture designs, as well as his role innascent prefab housing movement. In addition to all these features, his prowess in metal fabrication inspired also the structural
expressionist movement.
Born in Paris, the son of artist Victor Prouvé and pianist Marie Duhamel, Jean Prouvé grew up surrounded by the ideals of L’École de Nancy, where he studied from the age of 13 to 16. The school emphasized the importance of using industrial technologies in the creation of art, as well as promoting products to the masses, leading Prouvé to embrace these values and since then to treat art as an industry in itself.

In 1924, aged 22, Prouvé opened his first studio. Working in wrought iron and steel, he manufactured lamps, chandeliers and handrails, and designed his first piece of furniture, La Chaise Inclinable. The reclining chair was the first to use the flat steel tube technique that Prouvé had developed in his studio, which allowed the chair to be folded and stacked. During this period, Prouvé also produced details for numerous buildings throughout France, including the gates of the Verdun Memorial and several houses designed by Robert Mallet-Stevens.

This early success led to the expansion of his studio, renamed “Ateliers Jean Prouvé”, and a reinvigorated mission to produce highly industrialized construction pieces alongside mass-produced furniture. This period saw the invention of many of Prouvé’s most notable pieces of furniture, including the Cité set, which consisted of furniture for university students, and the CPDE Bureau, a black lacquered table. After the war, an influx of widely available materials coincided with a boom in the need for new housing. To meet this need, Prouvé collaborated with Pierre Jeanneret to develop the first house in the line of “Demountable Houses”. The project combined the ease of assembly of the BLPS, its first autonomous prefabricated structure, and the structural integrity of the barracks. from the army to provide quick and durable housing for displaced war victims. This series culminated in Ferembal’s Casa Demountable (1948) which was nearly demolished before being purchased by gallerist Patrick Seguin and in 2007 Jean Nouvel was commissioned to restore the structure to its former glory.
Prouvé’s work encompasses a wide selection of objects, from a letter opener to hardware for doors and windows; from light fixtures and furniture to façade elements and prefabricated houses, from modular construction systems to large exhibition structures; in short, virtually everything that can be produced industrially. Many of Prouvé’s pieces of furniture are still manufactured by the Swiss furniture retailer Vitra, which in 2002 began to re-edit the designs of this great French builder and its prefabricated houses are preserved and regularly exhibited thanks to Galerie Patrick Seguin.

discover some of Jean Prouvé's most iconic designs:

standard jean prouvé 1934/1950

The Standard chair by Jean Prouvé has become one of the “builder’s” most famous classics French. The seat and back of this understated, iconic chair are offered in a variety of styles wooden and the metallic structure is available in different colors.

Compass direction Jean Prouvé 1953

The elegantly spaced final metal legs of Jean Prouvé’s Compas Direction table resemble the arms of a compass: “le compas” in French. Its design is based on engineering principles that typify the structural model of the French engineer and designer. Together with oil-treated solid wood table tops, they form a highly contrasting material mix in the home office.