Jean Prouvé  was a blacksmith. Yes, because one of the most acclaimed French designers was not born as an architect but as an iron worker, formed in the ateliers of Emile Robert and Adalbert Szabo, two French ironworkers. But we should not be surprised by this, we should rather contextualize his education, in the environment of the French fine arts in which his painter father and his pianist mother grew him and their other 6 children. When he opened his Atelier Jean Prouve in 1931, the world of architecture opened up to him, beginning a long series of collaborations that will also lead him to be on the jury for evaluating projects for the Pompidou Center and to choose the one developed by Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano in 1971. The furniture he designed stands out for the supports in bent, pressed and welded sheet metal sections. A modality that Prouvé preferred to the tubular, which also characterized many furnishings of the early 1900s, and in particular the Bauhaus style. This setting makes his furniture, today, highly recognizable, and this is especially true for the projects that Vitra, from 2002, has decided to re-edit, creating one of the most iconic collections of the company itself. Essential furnishings, which exude the artisanal approach of Prouvé, despite having entered the industrial production circuit.

The Petite Potence lamp

In the Petite Potence lamp (no longer in production) and in  Potence (still in production, in the image) the Prouvé smith is fully expressed. Originally he had designed it for his Nancy house, and it looks like a long steel tubular arm with a bulb that moves around a wall-mounted pin and moves through a beechwood knob. To see it alone, it resembles a workshop lamp, but in reality it lends itself in a unique way to furnishing a domestic context, thanks to its essential line and to the refined chromatic proposals in full  Vitra style.

The Standard chair

The  Vitra reveals an engineering approach to the design of the chair: the rear feet are those on which most of the weight of those sitting is loaded, which is why they are large and voluminous, in box-shaped and welded sheet metal, while the front ones, useful above all to give stability, they are made of tubular steel. The wooden seat and back are just as characteristic of this seat.

Fauteuil de Salon by Vitra

The Fauteuil de Salon armchair

We find a similar configuration also in the  Fauteuil de Salon armchair. Voluminous rear feet in steel box and slender front feet in steel tube. Two more details, compared to the Standard, make it a comfortable armchair: the armrests, consisting of simple wooden rods resting on the extension of the front feet, and the padded cushions, available in a wide assortment of colors.

Cité by Vitra


Cité  is almost a lounge chair, with its sloping shape that invites you to relax. It was designed by Prouvé as part of a competition to design the interiors of a common room in the university residence of Nancy, but Prouvé himself wanted it in his living room. The frame, once again, is made of sheet metal, the covering of the only, long, cushion is made of canvas. A small bearing is placed on the backrest as a headrest and can be positioned higher and lower to fit the user. Two leather straps are placed along the armrests, to soften the whole. The result is an armchair that invites you to relax, to allow yourself a little moment of domestic vacation.

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