Jean Prouve, Anthony Daybed : Furniture Focus
words by Graeme du Plessis
French furniture designer Jean Prouve was of the philosophy that ‘design [was] a moral issue’ similarly to his contemporary and collaborator, Charlotte Perriand. His work, alongside others at the time, informed the aesthetic of mass-produced Modernism that came to popularity in a postwar era, where simplicity and functionality were key in order to be replicated and resold to a high quality. With an engineering background and training as a blacksmith Prouve’s skill in crafting metal structures with a minimalistic lightness is not surprising, and his collections are comprised of delicate yet robust angular forms.
The Anthony Daybed is instantly recognisable with its geometric lines, rigid edges and an absence of sweeping curves, the wood and fabric textures soft alongside the sturdy metal frame. It sits low to the ground and a cylindrical cushion sits at one end. Like most mid-century furniture design, the silhouette and lines are simple, straightforward, and there are few creative or more decorative elements. The oval-shaped wooden table was in fact a later addition to the design by Perriand, whom Prouve worked with alongside Le Corbusier.
The daybed is an example of design where the object’s functionality dictates the aesthetic. It is pared back to the most necessary elements of the design, serving its purpose above delivering an aesthetic. This results in a modest piece that has since become a highly sought-after collector’s piece.
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