TEFAF Maastricht 2017
Jacques Dumond | Joseph-André Motte
Masters of French Modernity
March 10-19, 2017
Jacques Dumond is considered a leader of the French modernist movement — exemplifying minimalism, functionalism, and a reductive approach towards ornamentation. As an educator he exerted a tremendous influence on the next generation of young designers. Dumond served as a liaison between an older movement of traditional interior designers and those exploring new materials and technologies, his legacy articulated as the ‘missing link’ between the two. Working often for private clients, Dumond’s deep knowledge of fine craftsmanship, elegant understanding of color and proportion, and experimentation with material are signature elements of his originality.
Jacques Dumond mostly worked on private commissions rather than mass production, so examples of his work are rare. Dumond was both enraptured by luxury, seeking to revive French design through an upscale aesthetic that he believed to be particularly French, while also committed to design as a means towards reconstruction. He influenced a generation of young designers, cultivating their talents by employing them in his studio, provoking them as a professor at École Camondo and the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, and serving as vice president of Société des Artistes Décorateurs. Dumond propelled the evolution of industrial design in France, disseminating its significance by promoting various exhibitions and consistently participating in the Formes Utiles section of the Salon des Arts Ménagers.
Dumond also joined the Union des Artistes Modernes in 1945, and was commissioned for other substantial projects including interiors for the French Embassy in Saarbrücken, Germany, 1954 and Maison de la Radio, Paris, 1962. In 1961, Dumond designed, in conjunction with his former student, Philippe Leloup, the “Salon Saint-Tropez,” the largest public lounge aboard the SS France cruise liner, the international symbol of French luxury. As was typical of his designs, Dumond prioritized the use of innovative and new materials. The seating that Dumond designed for the France was described as some of the most emblematic aboard the ship, contemporary in style, while still referencing French design of the past.
Dumond influenced an entire post-war generation of designers with his vision of modernity and emphasis on experimentation with material. These included André Monpoix, Janine Abraham and Dirk Jan Rol, Roger Fatus, Étienne Fermigier, and Philippe Leloup, with whom he collaborated often in the 1960s. Dumond promoted the idea that “new materials + new techniques = new forms,” a philosophy expressed through his experimentation with Formica, rattan, glass, and steel. This generation of designers benefited from Dumond’s enthusiasm for modernism and his collaborative approach.
Joseph-André Motte is one of the most substantial post-war French modern designers. Reflecting a commitment to the idea that modern design could resolutely improve society, Motte remains a feature of everyday French life through his large-scale designs of public spaces throughout the country. His works cascade through venues as regal as the Louvre and as quotidian as the Parisian metro, testing material and annunciating the significance of affordable design in a changing world.
Born in Saint-Bonnet, a village in the Hautes-Alpes of France, Joseph-André Motte studied applied arts in Paris as a student of René Gabriel, Louis Sognot, and Albert Guénot. By 1954, Motte had founded his own design agency and created the Atelier de Recherche Plastique (ARP) with prominent designers Pierre Guariche and Michel Mortier—both of whom he met while studying in Marcel Gascoin’s workshop.
A figurehead of the French modern movement, Motte was frequently commissioned by the French administration to participate in grand public projects including the interiors of hundreds of metro stations in Paris—his chairs remaining functional pinnacles of Parisian life throughout the subway stations. Additionally, Motte conceived of the design for the Orly, 1954; Roissy, 1970; and Lyon, 1975 airports. In particular, his work with architect Henri Vicariot for the Orly Airport represented the marriage of structural and interior elements in living spaces. This genre of collaborative work between architects and interior designers rejuvenated the role of designers like Motte.
Motte experimented widely with wood, stainless steel, Formica, and plastics. The variety of these materials reflected a desire to humanize the spaces he worked in, particularly as the use of concrete and other typically cold substances became fashionable in architecture. He once explained, “material is in charge, then imagination.” Moreover, Motte’s choice of otherwise overlooked materials contributed to cost-effective production. His desire to be economical existed in tandem with his belief that large-scale manufacture of works offered consumers a means to personalize their living environments.
Motte’s work represents the intersection of beauty and functionality in the face of an industrial society. Motte’s work is in the collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris; Musée du Louvre, Paris; and a number of public forums including the Hôtel de Ville, Grenoble, France, 1968 and the Council of Europe’s building, Strasbourg, France, 1973. Motte earned the René Gabriel Prize in 1957, the Grand Prize of the International Exposition, Brussels, 1958, and was honored as a Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, the highest distinction awarded by the French Ministry of Culture.