“I was aiming to show just how far we could make modernity go.” Pierre Paulin
The exhibition displays (after the one at Galerie Perrotin, Paris in 2015) Pierre Paulin rare original designs produced in limited editions by Paulin,
Paulin, Paulin : “La Déclive” from 1966, “Dos à dos” & “Face à face” from 1968; “Jardin à la française” armchairs, coffee tables and carpets made
specially for the Palais d’Iéna in Paris in 1985; “Tapis-siège” for the Herman Miller project in 1970; “Rosace” coffee table, 1971; “Diwan” rug, 1984;
Table “Cathédrale” from 1981.
Paulin, Paulin, Paulin, the firm founded by Pierre Paulin’s family in 2008, aims to promote his work by producing limited editions of his designs that never got beyond model or prototype stage, or that were made unique for special state commissions, and hence that were never produced before. They collaborate with the finest craftsmen in Europe and are backed by the expertise of Michel Chalard, Paulin’s closest collaborator and technical adviser.
The official names of Pierre Paulin’s creations evoke the inventory or industrial models numbers (F560, F437, F582, F577, etc.), but we are more familiar with the descriptive titles of these pieces among others – Mushroom (1960), Orange Slice (1960), Ribbon (1966), Tongue (1967) – that MoMA New York acquired in 1967. These colourful iconic objects by the most famous French designer of his day heralded the new society being shaped by the massive cultural, economic and technological changes of the early 1960s. Paulin’s furniture fitted the forms of the human body as it freed itself of social constraints. His rigorous research into new materials (elasticated fabrics and polyurethane foam, for example), associated with innovative construction methods placing wellbeing at the heart of the process, authorised all kinds of arrangements and made space malleable.
Paulin’s radical artistic stance conjoined formal modularity with sensuous functionalism. His travels in Scandinavia (1951) and Japan (1963) made
a lasting impact on his work and aesthetic approach, which he also applied to the interior commissioned for the private apartments of Georges Pompidou at the presidential palace, the Elysée, in 1971 (an ensemble that was even more audacious than the “modern, but classical” pieces commissioned by President François Mitterrand in 1983). The luminous coffee table « Rosace » is the core of the dismantled fumoir by Paulin that fitted in 1971 the hemycycle shape of the Salon Napoléon III in the Elysée Palace, with a structure conceived as a reminiscence of a gothic cross vault, suggesting also an igloo or a yurt. The shape of the table recalls the ribbed nave of the dining room, which is still onsite, as a grotto from which springs a rain of 9000 luminescent cristal stalactites.