During his life he was a metalworker, engineer, professor, self-taught designer and architect. His name is spoken by those who knew him with reverence and the furniture he produced is the object of a worldwide collectors’ cult. Jean Prouvé is considered not only as one of the most brilliant minds of the last century, but also as one of its greatest designers.
Born in Paris in 1901, Prouvé grew up in Nancy, a city with a great cultural heritage – his family had strong ties with the world of art. After studying as an engineer, he began working as a metalworker in a number of workshops, and this choice of career proved decisive for his future. After a short time, he set up the Atelier Jean Prouvé where he could design, produce and test his creations.
His philosophy was based all his life on rationalism and functionality, two principles permitting him to produce work which was distinguished by sobriety and elegance.
Prouvé was fond of metal, especially sheet steel, much lighter and useful than the steel tubes in vogue at that time and beloved of the Bauhaus movement. A large number of his pieces of furniture were actually designed to be used in public places such as universities and hospitals – where practicality and durability are the order of the day.
His pragmatic approach was displayed to even greater extent in the superb prefabricated buildings he designed. They could be erected in a matter of days and used for valid social purposes such as shelters for the homeless, or schools in areas suffering difficulties.
Almost a century later, his simple and essential design has stood the test of time to create a legendary aura around his name and ensure that Atelier Jean Prouvé pieces are highly valuable.
Thanks to the cooperation of the Prouvé family, in 2002 Vitra started producing some of this farsighted designer’s most iconic pieces of furniture.
Paris, December 2016