PARIS (75), 1901
NANCY (54), 1984
Prouvé was born into a family of artists, in Paris. He studied wrought iron and metal remained the material of his efforts all along his career.
As early as the 1930’s, Jean Prouvé was an architect and a furniture designer full of modern audacity, like Le Corbusier. His creed was to create well-designed, comfortable, and functional furniture that anyone could buy.
This is the reason why he thought thoroughly of mass-producing his creations, a field where he is deemed a pioneer in France.
Consulted as an expert on many building sites after WW II, he took part in the design of such buildings as the Palais omnisports de Bercy (1983) and the Tour Nobel (1966) in Paris.
He also worked with Le Corbursier for a long time, for instance at the Cité Radieuse, for which he designed some of the furniture.
As the President of the jury in charge of nominating an architect for the building of Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, he contributed to the choice of the project by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers.
In 1981, Jean Prouvé was awarded the Erasme Prize as a reward for contributing to the development of European culture.
“NEVER DESIGN ANYTHING THAT CANNOT BE MADE”
JEAN PROUVÉ'S MAIN WORKS
PAVILLONS DÉMONTABLES, 1947
MAISON DE TYPE COQUE, 1950-52
MAISON DE LA FAMILLE PROUVÉ , NANCY, FRANCE, 1953-54
PAVILLON DU CENTENAIRE DE L'ALUMINIUM, PARIS, 1954
MAISON DES JOURS MEILLEURS, POUR L’ABBÉ PIERRE, 1956
"BETTER DAYS" HOUSE
EXPERIMENTAL BUILDING, 1956
Building with metal, environmental care, paid vacations… On many aspects, Jean Prouvé was ahead of his time.
Architecture, engineering, furniture, he was interested in everything and above all in steel.
He particularly wanted to build cheap standardized houses for everyone.
“Better days” house, designed for Father Pierre in 1956, is an example of this kind of houses.
The bedrooms and the living-room are organized around a circular central pod (the “monobloc”) which consists of the kitchen, the shower, the heating and the ventilation systems.
This very clever house could be built in 7 hours only.
Mobile and easily dismantled, the houses by Jean Prouvé had to respect their environment and could disappear without leaving any mark.
DESIGNER JEAN PROUVÉ
At a very young age, Jean Prouvé turned to metal for his activity.
Among other things, he realized grids and railings for banks and a number of buildings in Nancy. He then was commissioned by Robert Mallet-Stevens between 1926-1928, which made him better known.
Jean Prouvé is very famous for his iron architectural structures, as well as for his furniture.
He rejected the decorative aesthetics inherited from the 19th century. He claimed that a piece of furniture is beautiful when it shows its structure, the forces and stress that he is submitted to.
He sees his activity of “constructeur” (as Le Corbusier had it) as a continuum, which does not separate building from furniture designing.
In this regard, Jean Prouvé refused to be called a “designer”.
His standard chair is the most famous and most striking example of his idea of furniture: its back feet, made of folded sheet metal, are reinforced because this is where the body weighs most.
As he wished to work for everybody, he designed furniture for children, students (“Cité Universitaire” in Antony), families…
He also designed furniture with Charlotte Perriand, a close friend of his. Together, they designed revolutionary home furniture.
The ‘’passe-plats” (serving hatch) pieces of furniture have become iconic.
Jean Prouvé created great standards of modern design. As his firm in Maxéville shut down in 1953, Vitra (Switzerland) took over the production of his furniture. Vitra has exclusive rights to the designer’s creations.