French, 1927 - 2009
After graduating from the École Camondo of Paris in 1950, Pierre Paulin started creating simple, functional and affordable wooden furniture. He was very influenced by Scandinavian modernity before discovering American designers such as Charles and Ray Eames. From 1954, he started collaborating with Thonet. Together they questioned the use of traditional upholsteries, leading them to research stretchy textile covers. Their first successful experiments using swimming suits’ fabric allowed them to invent a new kind of seat, without the help of an upholsterer. Henceforth, the seat covers could be changed according to fit each individual’s needs and taste, they could be washed, and they concealed the whole structure. Only a sensual colourful form was left, as chromatic punctuation in the space. The seat that could be dressed and undressed was born and it became Pierre Paulin’s hallmark.
He became internationally famous when he was chosen to renovate the Élysée Palace by the president Georges Pompidou and later François Mitterrand, who wanted to promote a new era of French modernity. His creations were movable, reversible and fun. Functionality and comfort went hand in hand with lasciviousness and vibrancy. A visionary, Pierre Paulin rejuvenated the concept of the seat producing nearly 200 pieces. His mythical chair “Globe” was thought of as an intimate bubble, favourable for meditative journeys. Manufactured by the Dutch company Artifort, it was inserted in the movie set of James Bond. His creations can also be found in the Musée du Louvre in Paris, for the visitors to contemplate masterpieces curled up in an organic-shaped settee.