French architect and designer Jean Prouvé was born in Paris on 8 April 1901, the son of painter and sculptor Victor Prouvé. After his military service, he set up a workshop in Nancy in 1924 thanks to a loan from a family friend and designed his “Reclining Chair” in lacquered folded steel sheet and canvas. In 1926, Jean PROUVÉ received his first commission from an architect: the entrance gate to the Villa Reifenberg in Paris by Robert Mallet-Stevens, who solicited him again in 1928 to create the retractable ironwork for the open-air room on the terrace at the Villa Noailles. He then understood that traditional ironwork was dead and that his path was to join architecture and industry: to conceive, design and produce furniture, architectural elements, and later, houses. He created the SA des Ateliers Jean Prouvé in 1931, produced furniture for the sanatoriums on the Plateau d'Assy, and from 1935 onwards, designed the Maison du peuple in Clichy with Eugène Beaudouin, Marcel Lods and Vladimir Bodiansky, which is considered to be the precursor of modern architecture. Jean PROUVÉ mothballed his workshops during the war and was appointed mayor of Nancy at the Liberation. At the end of the war, he studied and built light houses with Pierre Jeanneret, then, in 1950, the Ministry of Reconstruction commissioned him to build twelve industrialised houses, which were assembled in Meudon. In 1951, he produced a world first: aluminium sheds for the Imprimerie Mame in Tours (architect Bernard Zehrfuss).1954, Jean Prouvé participated with Charlotte Perriand in the call for tenders for the furnishings of the Jean Zay university residence in Antony. He won the order for furniture for the common rooms, the restaurants and some of the bedrooms. His creations in folded sheet metal (originally less expensive and more resistant, like car bodies) – bookcases, armchairs, chairs, Antony beds, Compas desks and tables, refectory tables – are exemplary and are now among the most highly-rated pieces of furniture of the 20th century (an original edition of the Antony chair is valued at around €40,000; A Kangaroo armchair sold for 152,449 € in March 2001; a bookcase can be worth up to 160,000 €). At the same time, Prouvé developed light facade systems that benefited from his earlier research and whose determining element was the stiffening profile. From 1957 to 1970, Prouvé was called upon to occupy the chair of Applied Arts at the Conservatoire national des arts et métiers in Paris. Always interested in education, he set up a teaching programme that illustrated his industrial approach to construction, based on the analysis of “technical objects”, from the automobile to construction, often based on his own experiences. The end of Prouvé's career was marked by his experimentation with new materials (Total's cylindrical service stations) or components (façade panels for the University of Lyon-Bron) as well as several projects that were too daring to be realised, but which gave his work an urbanistic dimension. This was also the time of international recognition and great successes: technical success for the structure of the Palais omnisports de Paris-Bercy (Michel Andrault and Pierre Parat architectes, 1978) or the Ouessant radar tower.

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Jean Prouvé

Aluminium pedestal table Cafeteria