Jean Prouvé

Born in Paris in 1901, Jean Prouvé came from an artistic home. His father, Victor Prouvé, a painter and sculptor, was a founding member of the Art Nouveau School of Nancy. Prouvé himself was trained as a metal artisan in Paris before attending engineering school in Nancy.

After opening his workshop in 1924, Prouvé designed and produced modern metal and wood furniture, and collaborated with major designers of the day, including Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand. Inspired by the aesthetics of aircraft design, he embraced bold, reduced forms, and championed steel and aluminum’s social and economic applications. He believed in the power of design to make the world a better place, and is credited with major developments in the prefabricated design arena, including refugee housing, his own home (a 1954 prototype), and the famed flat-packed Maison Tropicale.

In 1947, Prouvé started a factory at Maxéville specializing in furniture and prefabricated constructions; here he established a range of construction possibilities using folded or stamped sheet metal. From 1957-68, he served as head of the construction office of the Compagnie Industrielle de Matériel de Transport in Paris, before shifting gears to focus on his own architectural consulting firm in Paris between 1968 and 1984. In the last four years of his life, Prouvé focused his attention again on furniture design. He died in Nancy in 1984.