Ivorypress Art + Books Space in Madrid has opened an expansive exhibit on Jean Prouvé, the celebrated 20th-century French designer renowned for technologically savvy metal work, whether stylish aluminum-and-steel armchairs or prefab emergency housing.
Jean Prouvé 1901-1984: Industrial Beauty was co-curated by British starchitect Norman Foster (himself no slouch in tech-driven design) and covers the gamut of Prouvé’s more than 50-year career as an architect, engineer, and industrial designer. It takes us from his early days in Nancy, France, where he was an apprentice metalworker, to later experiments using sheet metal to fabricate stylish furniture, defying the popular steel-tube construction of the day, to his World War II-era efforts to mass-produce the 6x6 House, an ultra-light, ultra-efficient metal-frame shelter for refugees.
His brilliance stemmed from the same mix of attributes that blesses most leading lights in architecture and engineering: a deep understand of the latest technology and materials coupled with crack intuition. But Prouvé counts among the few who exploited the conveniences of industrialization to innovate across a range of design disciplines, without sacrificing aesthetics. His furniture, in particular, looks as fresh today as it did in 1930. He liked to think of himself as a “constructor.” Talk about an understatement.
The exhibit includes several of his original drawings, furniture, models, fragments of buildings, and even a full-scale replica of the 6x6 House. It’s on view through November 12. Details here.
[Images courtesy of Ivorypress]