METCHA | 20th-century design & architecture trip w/ a 30-year Jean Prouvé’s collection @ Galerie Patrick Seguin.

Settled in Bastille, a district of Paris, this Galerie focuses on design and architecture from the 20th-century. Jean Prouvé, Pierre Jeanneret, Jean Royère, Charlotte Perriand, and Le Corbusier all meet there.

Patrick Seguin is the founder and one of the greatest names of the 20th century design world. He is well known for his passion for Jean Prouvé’s legacy, and made sure to keep it alive: his Prouvé’s collection turned 30 yo last year.

We dropped by for a chance to see things, like the 1933 Jean Prouvé’s Cité leather armchair, and the 1955 Antony chair’, and meet Mr. Seguin to dive a bit into his three-decade collection.

Pull up a chair and keep on reading.

What’s behind Patrick Seguin Gallery? We mean, what do you want to share with the world?

The desire to share my passion for the designers that I represent, and more specifically Jean Prouvé.

Why did u decide to promote the furniture and architecture of Jean Prouvé, Charlotte Perriand, Pierre Jeanneret, Le Corbusier, and Jean Royère?

Since I opened the gallery in 1989, I have been promoting Prouvé’s furniture and architecture with the same passion. Postwar furniture was to a great extent out of favor when I started collecting his work. The interest for Jean Prouvé’s pieces has steadily grown over the last 30 years as people have come to appreciate what a pioneer he was. His demountable houses are remarkable structures that also deserve wider recognition as they constitute significant works of architecture from the midcentury. We have now assembled the most important collection of demountable houses (24 in total), which are unique, prototypes or produced in very few numbers.

The Gallery specializes in the works of Jean Prouvé, Charlotte Perriand, Pierre Jeanneret, Le Corbusier, and Jean Royère. Restoring the rightful place in History to these iconic designers in the history of 20th-century architecture and design requires time and dedication.

We rigorously work to build up awareness and have them included in the most prestigious public and private collections around the world. We held numerous exhibitions worldwide, in museums and various institutions, but also in collaboration with leading international contemporary art galleries. For instance, we organized three exhibitions in collaboration with Sonnabend Gallery (in 2008, 2006, and 2003) and held nine shows altogether with Gagosian Gallery these last 25 years (in Los Angeles, London, New York, Paris).

We also regularly publish comprehensive books, such as monographs devoted to Jean Prouvé and Jean Royère, a publication on Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret in Chandigarh, as well as 15 books on Jean Prouvé’s architectures divided into three box sets.

So, it’s been 30 years since u started ur Prouvé’s collection. How was the very beginning of it?

I first spotted a Standard chair and a Compas table by Jean Prouvé when visiting Saint-Ouen flea market in Paris in the late 1980s. I fell in love with the piece and quickly decided to quit the hospitality industry to open a gallery. I started collecting Prouvé’s furniture, then his demountable architectures; I purchased my first Prouvé house in 1991, the Ferembal house from 1948, and now I own a large collection of these structures.

Most of the works we own are either prototypes, unique or extremely rare, such as the Antony Central table (1954), a table from Africa (1952), but also several variations of the Standard chair from 1934 to 1953 or the Cité armchair (1933). The same goes for the various facade elements, like a sliding door from the Aluminium Centenary Pavilion (1954), a porthole panel from the Royan Casino (1951), and a panel from the Fédération Française du Bâtiment (1949).

Our collection has been exhibited in several instances, including the Château La Coste (2019), the French Embassy in Tokyo (2016) with Yusaku Maezawa’s collection, and in Torino in 2013 (Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli). It is a way for us to promote the work of Jean Prouvé that we love and admire.

We know u are a fan of Prouvé’s words, too. Like this quote: “I would love an architecture to leave no trace on the landscape”. That said, would u add that architecture and furniture design can be a tool for sustainability?

Jean Prouvé was ahead of his time in many aspects, in particular with his way of thinking architecture and design. His prefabricated architectures were designed to be easily moved and then swiftly mounted, but he was also committed to building houses that would leave as little traces as possible on the landscape.

I do believe that architecture and furniture design can indeed be a tool for sustainability. We have in this regards commissioned architect Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, building services, and environmental consultants ChapmanBDSP to adapt Prouvé’s 6x6m demountable house from 1944. Made in wood and metal, the portable house was originally created to provide emergency housing after the war. Easy to transport, it only took a day to assemble. The adaptation pushed the boundaries of sustainable design with the creation of a portable home that could function autonomously in almost any climate. The house is currently on loan at Château La Coste, which belongs to my friend Patrick McKillen, and serves as a hotel suite.

Besides leaving no trace, it’s important that it doesn’t end up on trash. Do u believe a furniture piece also has to be made to last? Some pieces last a lifetime.

Yes, it’s the 20th century that created the notion of disposable that goes in hand with consumption. As Jean Nouvel said, “they either die or find a new destination”.

Some pieces we see at Galerie Patrick Seguin have got some history already, just like Jean Prouvé’s Cité, haven’t they? Can u share ur history w/ this piece?

Exactly. As the Cité armchair was created in 1930 for the new university dormitory in Nancy, it had to be solid and enable easy maintenance. The rigid, yet light pressed steel frame upholstered with extremely tough and easily washable sailcloth guaranteed a sturdy piece, made to last.

Is sustainability a thing u value when shopping for ur own furniture? The things u use every day in ur personal life too?

We live with the furniture from our collection and use them on a daily basis. When it comes to the everyday objects we use, we do our best to buy sustainable products.

We want to know two of your favorite pieces: one from the Gallery and another one from your home sweet home.

The 6x6 Demountable House by Jean Prouvé, 1944, and Jean Prouvé’s Centrale table from 1954, a commission for the Antony University campus in the Paris suburb.

Tell us three things a piece of furniture needs to have to get Patrick Seguin’s attention.

A good provenance, a nice patina, and a consistency with the overall work of its creator.

And 5 favorite jaw-dropping places in Paris from design to architecture:

1. Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye in Poissy near Paris is a must-see;

2. The House of Glass, designed by Pierre Chareau, that now belongs to my friend Bob Rubin;

3. The glass and steel setting of the Foundation Cartier, designed by Jean Nouvel;

4. The Centre Pompidou: Following an international architecture contest which jury was presided by Prouvé, the project of architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers was selected and resulted in an iconic building;

5. Lafayette Anticipations which building was renovated by OMA, Rem Koolhaas’ architecture firm, offers a large range of spatial configurations (9 rue du Plâtre, 75004 Paris).

And if in Paris, make sure to drop by the GALERIE PATRICK SEGUIN @ 5 Rue des Taillandiers, 75011 Paris, France.

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