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Jean Prouvé

Biographies
Jean Prouvé

*  1901 Paris
† 1984 Nancy


An extremely versatile and prolific furniture designer and architect, Jean Prouvé was born in Paris in 1901. Between 1916 and 1919 Jean Prouvé served an apprenticeship as a metal craftsmen under Émile Robert, a Paris artisan. In Paris Jean Prouvé continued his training with Szabo, another metal craftsman, until 1921. By 1923 Jean Prouvé was in a position to open a workshop of his own in Nancy. Jean Prouvé received numerous important commissions, including the celebrated metal mounts he made for Émile Gallé's vases. From 1924 Jean Prouvé also designed furniture of sheet steel, which he showed at the 1925 "Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes" in Paris. The cool functional aesthetic informing those early Jean Prouvé pieces attracted the attention of Le Corbusier; Jean Prouvé soon met Le Corbusier and Jean Jeanneret as well as their colleague, Charlotte Perriand, with whom he would design several pieces of furniture in the 1950s, including bookcases of wood and sheet metal featuring irregularly arranged compartments into which bright-colored lacquered walls and metal doors are fitted. In 1930 Jean Prouvé was a founding member of the Union des Artistes Modernes (UAM) and showed his furniture at their exhibitions. In 1931 Jean Prouvé and A. Schotte founded Société des Ateliers Jean Prouvé in Nancy. For the workshop, Jean Prouvé bought the most modern stamping and metalworking machinery then available on the market and made all sorts of objects of sheet metal and wood. In 1937 Jean Prouvé designed a piece of school furniture, a one-piece combination of table and chair. In 1939 Jean Prouvé produced metal housing for the French army. In 1944 Jean Prouvé's firm made more than one thousand prefab housing units for the homeless. As an architect, Jean Prouvé also designed schools in Croismare and for the French overseas département Martinique as well as a fire-brigade barracks in Bordeaux. When Pechiney, the aluminium company, became the majority shareholder of Atelier Jean Prouvé in 1953, Jean Prouvé himself left the business to open a design practice in Paris. In 1955 Jean Prouvé and Michel Bataille founded Les Constructions Jean Prouvé but this business was bought out in 1957 by the Compagnie Industrielle de Matériel de Transport, for whom Jean continued to work until 1966.