Autumn in the colours of Prouvé

Autumn in the colours of Prouvé


Eliška Koukalová

The contrasts of materials, the robust metal construction in juxtaposition with the wooden seat, that's the Prouvé Standard. The chair originally known as Chair no. 4 boasts new colours that we certainly can't hide from you.

Before we discuss the colours of the furniture of the architect and designer, let's see where the philosophy of his work comes from. He grew up surrounded by art, particularly the close circle of artists at L'École de Nancy, which, in addition to Prouvé's father, included the art glass artist Emile Gallé and the furniture designer Louis Mojirelle. Representatives of the Art Nouveau movement set out to make art more accessible, so no one will be surprised by Prouvé's later embrace of mass production and prefabricated solutions.


Prouvé chose the craft of artistic metalsmithing, aligning himself with the stream of modernists using metal as a material that offered new possibilities. Soon he was also masterfully exploiting the wide range of advantages of new materials such as steel, which soon brought him worldwide recognition. Unlike the tubular metal characteristic of the Bauhaus, for example, Prouvé relied on his knowledge of steel plates, which he shaped in various ways.


His design was easily recognizable - free from ornamentation with an emphasis on the pure utilitarianism of the object. In addition to his furniture designs, he later gained recognition as an architect who was instrumental in the reconstruction of post-war Paris. He also made his name in history as the chairman of the commission to build the then controversial Centre de Gorge Pompidou - surprisingly all in metal.


The essence of Prouvé's philosophy can certainly be considered to be Chair no. 4, which we now know as the Standard Chair. Across Prouvé's portfolio, tendencies towards sculpturalism and contrasting materials are evident, which makes one thing clear: the skilled designer used the same approaches in designing furniture and buildings. He grasped the basic knowledge and pitfalls of the object in question, and from the solution of which he created the strengths of the overall design. As in the case of the back legs of the Standard chair, which extend at the point of greatest pressure on the structure. In the opposite direction, the tapering shape reminiscent of an aircraft wing not only distinguishes the visor of the chair from others, it also determines the angle and position of the backrest. It also adds surface area to the appearance of the carefully selected colour shades.


The autumn crop of Vitra novelties is also highlighted, presenting the Standard chairs in an extended colour range. Prouvé selected the shades for his designs according to several criteria, also based on the inspirational creators. For example, the shade Gris Vermeer refers to the grey tones typical of the painter Johannes Vermeer. The Blé Vert design imitates the stalks of young wheat. The colours are always applied only through the metal frames, as they serve to protect parts that could corrode.


The seat and backrest remain in wood as a unifying element across the collection. In addition to the original and new versions, the Métal Brut is also available in raw steel. Although the designer gravitated more towards raw finishes, he was aware of the power of colour to lend objects certain almost auratic qualities. Or simply the ability to match a refrigerator, for example.



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