Flickr Widget

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Jean Prouvé

Jean Prouvé (1901-1984) was born in Paris and trained as a metal artisan. He opened a workshop in Nancy in 1924 and started making furnishings of formed sheet steel the next year. In 1931 he opened his own manufacturing business, Les Ateliers Jean Prouvé, which produced furniture and prefabricated architectural elements.

Because steel was scarce during the Second World War, Prouvé turned to the construction of wood furniture and developed simple houses made out of prefabricated parts.  He was a member of the French Résistance and was elected mayor of Nancy after the city was liberated, where he designed and constructed housing for the homeless.

In 1947 he established the Maxéville factory, which made furnishings, prefabricated homes and schools, but he left the company in 1953.  He worked as head of the construction office of the Compagnie Industrielle de Matériel de Transport in Paris between 1957-68 and later ran his own architectural consulting firm in Paris from 1968-84, but he continued to design furniture as well. He taught at the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers from 1957-70. 


Antony chair

 Cité armchair
Compass table
Bookcase from Maison du Mexique
EM table
M21 desk
Metal and wood chair
Maison du Tropicale (Tropical House)


  1. We had one of the Tropical Houses on display at Yale several years ago. It was very cool.

  2. @monogirl: I'd love to see one of the Tropical Houses. I'd love even more to have one to live in!

  3. My grandparents had a dining table (almost identical to the compass table),8 chairs and desk from Maxeville. It was cheap furniture easily available after WW2 when you couldn't get anything new at all in France. The desk was in my father's bedroom and the table and chairs in the kitchen. The only thing that was solid wood was the desk. The problem with his earlier furniture was that it wasn't very well made and thus didn't survive my father and his 3 siblings. The wooden elements were made from steam compressed plywood and tended to expand and disintegrate. All that was left was the steel frame of the table and chairs. We thought it was rubbish and threw it out after they died. I believe that collectors now pay a fortune for his stuff. If only we'd known, we'd have sold it instead of leaving it out for the rubbish men. In fairness, my grandparents had a lot of antique furniture, so in comparison we couldn't have known any different.