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Jean Prouve

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As one of modernism's early great practitioners, and one of the finest designers France has produced, Jean Prouve (1901-1984) bridged the gap between industrial production and aesthetic grace. Though he worked as an architect and designer, one can't open a glossy design magazine without seeing his iconic cafeteria chairs. Unlike the production of the Bauhaus, which favored tubular steel, Prouve worked largely with sheet metal, bending and working it to suit his needs. And his early training as a metal smith informed not just his own prodcution as a furniture designer and architect, but caused him to establish a number of workshops over the course of his career. His buildings include the Maison du Peuple in Clichy, France, his own home in Nancy, and a series of gas stations, one of which now sits amidst the starchitect outpouring at the Vitra campus in southern Germany. Perpetually reworking his designs, experimenting with new materials, and generally pushing forward the use of metals like aluminum in the design process, Prouve is done a certain injustice if remembered only as a designer. Though his work rightly stands at the apex of 20th century modernism, his work as a lover of industry, of making and producing, deserves equal exploration.
 

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Compass Table

Jean Prouve's enameled-steel table, with a laminate top, debuted in 1953 in France.

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