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Jean Prouvé

France (1901–1984)

Jean Prouvé occu­pied a unique posi­tion at the inter­sec­tion of design, manu­fac­tur­ing, archi­tec­ture, and engi­neer­ing. Though he was revered by peers in the indus­try during his life­time, the French vision­ary was largely unknown to the general public until Vitra began to reissue his works in 2002. Today, the Swiss manu­fac­turer produces iconic pieces like Prouvé’s Stan­dard chair and Cité armchair, which both encap­su­late the strik­ing simplic­ity and util­i­tar­ian quality of the designer’s oeuvre. 

Prouvé’s train­ing as a black­smith influ­enced his pref­er­ence for working in metal. He embraced the use of steel and aluminum to create cutting-edge furni­ture under the name of his studio, Atelier Jean Prouvé. Prouvé became fasci­nated by the concept of mass produc­tion, and he began design­ing a catalog of stan­dard furni­ture models for hospi­tals, schools, and offices. 

After WWII, he moved into his own factory in Maxéville, France, where he exper­i­mented with prefab­ri­ca­tion of build­ing elements, furni­ture, and even complete flat-pack houses, such as a series of resi­dences he designed for refugees in the Niger and the Repub­lic of Congo in 1949 and 1950. His inge­nious work set a prece­dent for effi­ciency in design and manu­fac­tur­ing that would have a lasting impact on the industry.

Designs by Jean Prouvé (2)