Pierre Paulin au Mobilier national
Paris, France

Pierre Paulin au Mobilier national
Grande réserve Perret
March 2023

Photos © Adrien Dirand

A symbol for many of the quintessential design of the 1960s and 1970s thanks to its organic forms and modular developments, the work of Pierre Paulin is often seen as being limited to this period. And yet, starting in the early 1980s, Paulin took the risk of re-evaluating his practice, opting for an artisanal approach that constituted a complete break with his more industrial work hitherto. In close collaboration with the workshops of the Mobilier National, models of great technical complexity would be born, such as the Cathedral Table, a feat of design and production achieved before the advent of 3D creative tools. In 1983, an exhibition was organised the at the musée des Arts Décoratifs.

The new Pierre Paulin startled, shocked the world of design, which no longer expected anything from him, or rather was hoping for a variation on his iconic forms, and which was surprised by the desire of this man in his 60s to reinvent himself. If the idea of precious, limited production furniture seems inappropriate in this context, today we can only note the influence or at least the visionary aspect of this approach for the world of design. The exhibition, even if it was misunderstood in part, convinced French President François Mitterrand to call upon Pierre Paulin for the fitting out of the presidential office. For this job, Paulin borrowed the Tyrian blue and rose of a Charles Le Brun tapestry hanging in the Salon Doré (the golden room) – highly audacious colours to choose for an official office. This was a radical gesture, given that the pink line which seemed at first glance to be decorative reveals itself to be the very structure that gives this imposing office all its lightness.

A dialogue between different ages, the so-called “Mitterrand chair” is a real artisanal masterpiece that represents the surprising encounter between the regency chair with its double canework and Ray and Charles Eames’ shell chair. Its hexagonal shape is a kind of homage or a nod to the geography of France.