Jean Prouvé was a pioneering and self-taught designer and architect who altered the course of furniture and building production. A man of supreme technical acumen, he also pushed the various disciplines he worked within to have a greater humanistic agenda. Galerie Patrick Seguin is showing an iconic work by Prouvé, the Maison Demountable, here at Design Miami/ 2013.
Prouvé came to architecture indirectly, nearly by accident. A metalworker and creator of individual housing components, he started to realize the possibility of introducing manufacturing processes into architecture in the 1930s. After the destruction of World War II, the need for quick, easily-assembled, and affordable housing was severe; Prouvé was one of the first to develop pre-fabricated buildings to meet this need.
The Maison Demountable is one of the earliest examples of a pre-fab home. Meticulously researched, the house consists of a metal-frame structure and is designed specifically to meet the living space needs of the occupant, as well as to maximize the ease of production and transportation for the manufacturer and builder.
Walking into the Prouvé house, one is struck by its simple, inviting warmth, but also by the historical significance of the structure and what’s inside. Seguin, who collects an impressive range of furniture and objects by some of the most iconic designers of the 20th century, has included works by the likes of Charlotte Perriand, Pierre Jeanneret, Le Corbusier and Jean Royére – all of whom were contemporaries of Prouvé, and most of whom collaborated with him.
The Maison Demountable was revolutionary at the time of its creation, and it still stands as a reminder that design can meet the moral obligation of providing easy, low-cost shelter – while still retaining an aesthetic grandeur.