Jean Prouvé Petrol Station

Jean Prouve

Jean Prouvé: Born in Paris to a creative family and imbued with the spirit of design, Jean Prouvé could only have become the prolific designer and architect. His father, Victor Prouvé,  was an artist and his mother, Marie Duhamel, a pianist. His father and mother were abundantly involved in an artistic circle which heavily influenced Jean.

Jean grew up in Nancy, France where his father was closely engaged with the École de Nancy of which he became President in 1904. Victor’s work featured the contemporary Art Nouveau movement.



Dawn (L’Aube), Oil on Canvas, Victor Prouvé,1900.

By dalbera from Paris, France – Salle à manger, Art Nouveau (Musée de l’Ecole de Nancy), Victor Prouvé,  1903-06. CC BY 2.0,

The Voluptuous, Oil on Canvas, Victor Prouvé, 1889.

Victor, in fact, joined with Émile Gallé, Louis Majorelle, Antonin Daum and Eugène Vallin to found the École de Nancy and regularly furnished designs for Émile Gallé, a glass artist and a major influence in the French Art Nouveau movement.

Assorted Cameo Glass by Émile Gallé.

Jean Prouvé started out, after attending the École de Nancy for three years, by working in metals, especially wrought iron, until he opened his own shop providing handrails, lamps and chandeliers. Eventually, he worked for architects and furnished details for windows and stairs. This is also when he began designing furniture and developed the Chaise Inclinable in 1924.

Chaise Inclinable, Wrought Iron and Fabric, Jean Prouvé, 1924.

Jean Prouvé’s style increasingly abandoned the over enthusiastic curves of Art Deco to assume the cleaner lines and flat planes of the modern era. His use of metals quickly became quite desirable and he worked many architectural and domestic projects including gates for the Verdun Memorial. Between 1935-38 he collaborated with Beaudouin, Lods and Bodiansky to produce such structures as the Maison du Peuple de Clichy, a modernist structure with exposed framing.

Maison du Peuple de Clichy, Clichy, France, 1935-38.

Maison du Peuple de Clichy, Clichy, France, 1935-38. (A peek at the interior.)

He also worked with various other furniture designers such as Pierre Jeanneret, known for his inventive wood framed chairs such as the Scissor Chair, Model 92 in 1948.


Scissor Chair, Model 92, Pierre Jeanneret, 1948.

After World War II, an incredible need for structures of all kinds led to the Ferembal Demountable House by Jean Prouvé in 1948 and the concept of mass-produced, modular construction.

Ferembal Demountable House, 1948.

Ferembal Demountable House, 1948. (interior)

One of the most notable features of Jean Prouvé’s body of work is his inclusion of metal elements. Whether furniture or architecture, Prouvé made metal a central characteristic.

Tropical House (La Maison Tropicale), 1951. Interior view showing porthole windows, steel ceiling and metal support.

An interest in affordable, durable housing made possible by modern manufacturing techniques captured the imagination of many modernist architects from Frank Lloyd Wright with his Usonian houses to Jean Prouvé and his La Maison Tropicale. Meant for inexpensive housing in the French colonies, La Maison Tropicale or the Tropical House of 1951 was a product of the same influences experienced by most modernist architects of the period.

Tropical House (La Maison Tropicale), 1951.

Porthole Door, Aluminum.

Prouvé was very interested in metallurgy and spent a great deal of time investigating the use of metals and uses for non-traditional metals such as aluminum.

The objects most commonly associated with Prouvé are his furniture designs, many of which are still in production:


The Standard Chair, Metal and Bent Plywood, 1934.

The Standard Chair, Metal and Bent Plywood, 1934.

The Antony Chair, Lacquered Steel and Bent Plywood, 1954

EM Table, Lacquered Steel with Oak Top, 1950.

Cite Bed, Sheet Metal, 1932. (For student quarters at Cite University in Nancy, France.)

Compass Desk, Oak, 1953.

Gueridon Table, Oak with Metal Supports, 1949.

The Fauteuil Direction Armed Chair, Steel and Oak, 1951.

The Fauteuil Direction Armed Chair, Steel and Oak, 1951.

Other Miscellaneous Designs:

Jean Prouvé, decidedly modernist, had an unmistakable unique style whether in furniture, objects or in architecture. His use of metals, in particular sheet metal, had a strong influence on the design of commercial and residential buildings as well as furniture. The fact that many of his objects and furniture are readily available today, speaks to the quality of his designs.

The amazing house of Jean Prouvé:

Further info:

A Tropical House Architecture & Design a video on YouTube.

Jean Prouvé.

Jean Prouvé on