France, 1930
Robert Mallet-Stevens

lacquered steel tube (structure) and lacquered wood (seat)
82.5 x 44 x 50 cm

Robert Mallet-Stevens was an anomaly of the modernist era of design—while most were moving toward a sober, subtractive approach, Mallet-Stevens was designing buildings and interiors with a decorative, mannerist flair, blending various styles to create unique spaces for a wealthy, avant-garde clientele.

Mallet-Stevens was also a prolific furniture designer, creating many custom pieces for his buildings and interiors. His approach in this field was more modernist, asserting that furniture should be "functional in terms of contemporary living, simple and suitable for mass production.” His most enduring design is a tubular, stacking metal chair, created for the Paris Colonial Exposition (1931). Influenced by the famous Thonet café chairs, they were celebrated for their elegance, durability, and, compared to his architectural work, an unexpected lack of decorative pretense. Mallet-Stevens passed away in Paris in 1945, before the widespread adoption of mass production design techniques. At the behest of his wishes, much of Mallet-Stevens’ archives and personal documents were destroyed after his death; this, along with his eclectic body of work, has caused this singular and expressive designer to receive less consideration than his more oft-celebrated contemporaries. —Wright

📷 Centre Pompidou