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Monthly Archives

May 2020

Jean Prouve

Designer of the Month – Jean Prouvé

By In the news

Jean Prouvé 

Designer of the month

I’m not an architect; I’m not an engineer – I’m a factory man.’

Jean Prouvé

Jean Prouve

Jean Prouvé (8 April 1901 – 23 March 1984) completed his training as a metal artisan before opening his own workshop in Nancy in 1924. In the following years he created numerous furniture designs, and in 1947 Prouvé established his own factory. Due to disagreements with the majority shareholders, he left the company in 1953. During the ensuing decades, Prouvé served as a consulting engineer on a number of important architectural projects in Paris.


He left his mark on architectural history again in 1971, when he played a major role in selecting the design of Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers for the Centre Pompidou as chairman of the competition jury. Prouvé’s work encompasses a wide range of objects, from a letter opener to door and window fittings. From lighting and furniture to façade elements and prefabricated houses, from modular building systems to large exhibition structures – essentially, almost anything that is suited to industrial production methods.

prouve drawing

Jean Prouvé and Vitra

Vitra regards Prouvé as one of the twentieth century’s great designer-engineers, alongside such figures as Charles and Ray Eames. His furniture comprises an important part of the collection of the Vitra Design Museum, which mounted a major retrospective of his work in 2006. Since 2002, Vitra has produced Jean Prouvé’s most significant furniture designs in close cooperation with his daughter, Catherine Prouvé. These products are based on the extensive Prouvé collection in the Vitra Design Museum, as well as plans and drawings in the holdings of the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Fonds Jean Prouvé des Archives Départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle.

vitra standard chair

The Standard Chair

The French designer, architect and engineer Jean Prouvé created the Standard Chair in 1934. This design exemplifies a fundamental aspect of Prouvé’s numerous furniture designs and architectural works: his unwavering focus on structural requirements.

The load on the back legs of a chair, where it supports the weight of the sitter’s upper body, is greater than on the front legs. This is hardly a surprising discovery, but no other seating design demonstrates this principle as clearly as the Standard Chair: while tubular steel suffices for the front legs, which bear a relatively light load, the back legs are made of voluminous hollow sections that transfer the primary stress to the floor. The profile of the back legs, formed from thin bent sheet steel, resembles an aircraft wing, with the widest measurement at the point where the leg meets the seat frame – that is, where the stress is greatest. The tapered shape of the hollow section from the seat surface upwards simultaneously defines the angle and position of the backrest.

Standard Chair

Gueridon Dining Table

Gueridon Bas Coffee Table

Petit Potence Wall Lamp