about Jean Prouvé

Jean Prouvé (1901 – 1984)

Jean Prouvé was born in Paris on April 8, 1901. From 1916 to 1919 Jean Prouvé did an apprenticeship as a wrought iron craftsman at the studio of Émile Robert, which he later continued at Szabo’s in Paris until 1921. Jean Prouvés love of ornamental ironwork, the material metal and the potentialities of the material had an influence on his whole life. Jean Prouvé’s furniture designs often contain metal in especially strong profiles with exposed technical connections used as the dominating design element.

Jean Prouvé started with his own smithy in Nancy in 1923. Amongst other things, in 1927, Prouvé manufactured the entrance gate of the Reifenberg mansion in Paris. Jean Prouvé got this job from Le Corbusier that he met the same year.

Le Corbusier took notice of the still young Jean Prouvé right from the beginning of Prouvé´s career as a furniture designer. Le Corbusier was fascinated by his sheet steel furniture with a deliberately cool and functional aesthetic.

The top priority for Jean Prouvé was functionality: his architectural designs were often modular systems with prefabricated facade elements made of metal and often only intended for temporary use. For Jean Prouvé it was very important that his architectural as well as his furniture designs could be produced industrially and were not too expensive.

In 1939 for example, Jean Prouvé designed sheet metal barracks for the French military and in 1944 he produced over 1000 demountable accommodations for homeless people. Several years later, in 1971, Jean Prouvé was even nominated chairman of the jury selecting the design for the Centre Pompidou in Paris, although he was never trained as an architect.  

Le Corbusier said about Jean Prouvé: “Prouvé was indissolubly an architect and an engineer, or even better, an architect and a master builder, since everything he touches and designs immediately takes on an elegant, beautiful form while he finds brilliant solutions to resistance and manufacturing.”

Jean Prouvé died in Nancy on March 23, 1984.