The factory man

The arrival in our office of these vintage Jean Prouvé images offers the ideal opportunity to remind
you that there are now just over six months remaining in which to order furniture from the special edition
Prouvé RAW collection.*

Look how whippet thin and elegant Prouvé and his draughtsmen are in the first photo – a sign of the lean post-war years or natural French chic? And note the distinctive Standard chairs to their right, with the designer’s trademark slender front legs and broader, load-bearing back legs; these are practical chairs, designed for everyday use in the public sector.

The second image shows him later in life at his home in Nancy, sitting in the Cité chair, with his Guéridon Bas coffee table in the foreground (not part of the Prouvé RAW collection, but available online, too).

And here’s the original drawing for the Tabouret Solvay:

An engineer, designer, manufacturer, architect and teacher, Prouvé (1901-1984) described himself as
‘a factory man’. He was a visionary who embraced the new materials, machinery and processes that began to emerge in the ‘20s. In just seven years, he progressed from creating ornamental wrought-iron grilles and balustrades using traditional blacksmithing skills to working with steel and aluminium, installing Nancy’s first electrical welding machine in 1926 and, by 1930, using a metal-folding machine to make
his designs. Conceived as utilitarian pieces, their innate beauty derives from their economic lines and honest materials.**

Three years ago, Vitra (which owns the rights to Prouvé’s designs) was approached by the creative team of international denim brand G-Star, who were longtime fans of the designer’s work. The result was the Prouvé RAW collection – one of G-Star’s famous ‘crossovers’ – a seductive reinterpretation of selected pieces, including some lesser-known designs, created in collaboration with the manufacturer and after consultation with the Prouvé family.

The Conran Shop’s Prouvé RAW collection comprises the Standard chair (1934/1950); the Fauteuil Direction (1951);  the Cité armchair (1930); Lit Flavigny (1945);  Rayonnage Murale (1936); Tabouret
No. 307 (1951); Tabouret Solvay (1941); Table S.A.M. Tropique (1950); and Banc Marcoule (1955).
Each piece is stamped with the G-Star RAW emblem.

* Vintage images courtesy of Vitra. The special-edition Prouvé RAW collection is being produced for
one year only. The Conran Shop is the sole supplier of Prouvé RAW in London and Southern England.

** Read more about Prouvé on the Vitra and Design Museum websites.

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