FREE Worldwide shipping over £50  (Excluding Furniture)

Historical designers you need to know: Jean Prouvé

Historical designers you need to know: Jean Prouvé


Designer furniture is a huge part of interior design, so if you love putting your own mark on your home, it pays to know who's who in this area.

We stock a great, varied range of replica designer furniture at Space and Shape, which allows you to add that designer flare to your home without coming at the designer cost. No matter what your style, you'll find something that suits it from some of the most influential designers throughout history.

One such designer is Jean Prouvé, who is known as one of the best French designers of the 20th Century. With a career that spanned more than 60 years, Prouvé dabbled in a bit of everything, including the iconic and beautiful furniture that is included in our collection.

Early life

Prouvé was born into a highly artistic home - his father was Victor Prouvé, a painter and sculptor - and so it was no surprise that he started to develop his own artistic tendencies when he grew up.

He started out as an apprentice blacksmith at the age of 15, learning how to shape iron through a number of traditional techniques. This is where his love of different materials and processes, both of which are evident within his furniture, started out.

A solid work ethic saw Prouvé move up the ladder in the world of work to run a studio and eventually start his own factory, which is where he worked until 1953. The factory took commissions for wrought-iron, but as this material had limitations, Prouvé started looking to new processes and materials with which to create his designs.

In 1931, after making use of modern technologies such as arc welding and metal folding, Prouve opened the Atelier Jean Prouvé and took inspiration from a number of avant-garde architects when it came to making metal furniture.

Prouvé's furniture

The furniture Prouvé created was light-weight, following on from his early experiments in folded steel. These designs soon became furniture and he received commissions for 800 pieces by 1934 to be delivered to a power company in Paris.

He stayed away from the domestic market, instead designing pieces for schools, offices and hospitals. This allowed him to create chairs, desks and beds, among other items, leading him to create a standard model catalogue for the public sector.

The techniques he used allowed for mass-produced furniture, which also inspired him to start working on ways that folded sheet metal could be used when constructing buildings. However, he sadly lost his factory in 1953 when his financial backer took over.

This allowed Prouvé to start looking at more ambitious projects that used a greater degree of elegance in the design, something that mass-produced pieces missed out on. He was able to call himself a designer rather than a factory man, with commissions coming in for a pavilion on the banks of the river Seine and collaborations with other designers.


Prouvé's designs are all about simplicity, with a focus on functionality and solid manufacture. He was inspired by the elegant and yet sparse design of aircraft and automobiles, mirroring their lines and reduced forms throughout his work.

His bold, solid designs showcase the materials with which they are made, as well as the processes that were used during their manufacture. This results in beautifully balanced pieces that make a statement through their simplicity, despite the fact that some intricate processes were used in their creation.

Prouvé genuinely believed that design had the power to create a better world, not only through its appearance but also because he thought of design as a moral issue. His factory was run on socialist principles, creating a community in which all ideas and innovations were welcome. This is what led to many of his techniques and the success of his designs even today.

Image credit: