Starring - Pierre Paulin
Seoul, South Korea

An exhibition in collaboration with Lee-Jung-Jae

At the end of the Second World War, Pierre Paulin wanted to become a sculptor, but an accident thwarted this destiny, forcing him to reconsider his career path. 

Under the influence of his uncle, the car designer Georges Paulin, he too turned to drawing, and more particularly to furniture design. However, he remained obsessed with his sculptural approach to the object, and the idea that his models should be seen from every angle, without flaw, as true functional sculptures.

In the late ’50s, the discovery of stretch textiles, used in the swimwear industry, provided Paulin with the means to materialize his vision: adopting the tubular structures emblematic of the Bauhaus as the backbone of his creations, he covered them with Pirelli foam for comfort, then covered them with a stretch fabric cover that molded precisely to their silhouette, revealing a monolithic, organic entity.

This formal transformation marked a break with traditional, bourgeois conceptions of furniture, and brought Paulin’s creations onto the international scene, establishing a lasting influence on his peers. Leading museum institutions such as New York’s MoMA included Paulin’s furniture in their collections, celebrating the advent of a new, organic and functional era in design.

Nevertheless, the visual impact of his works was such that many of his contemporaries found it difficult to assimilate these new forms as belonging to their time, relegating them instead to a futuristic vision. Emblematic pieces such as the “Ribbon Chair” (1967), the “Mushroom” (1959), the “Tongue Chair” (1963) and the “Groovy” (1964) were frequently seen on screen in the science-fiction film and TV productions of the 60’s and 70’s, serving both as sets and almost as actors in themselves, ideally embodying the concept of a world yet to come.

Paulin’s creations continued to evolve and renew themselves from the 50s to the 90s, according to the challenges he was called upon to meet, and always with a profound desire for modernity. He also led numerous large-scale interior design projects, notably for the Louvre Museum and the Élysée Presidential Palace under Georges Pompidou, then François Mitterrand. In these spaces, Paulin projected his tubular structures from the seats, fully appropriating the architectural space and transcending the built environment to create an intimate and secure environment, a total vision from floor to ceiling.

More than sixty years after their creation, Pierre Paulin’s works continue to be featured in cinema, not to convey a retro-futuristic nostalgia, but to continue representing the persistent vision of a future that seems to refuse to grow old.