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JEAN ROYÉRE: Plush, Poetic, Playful

Born into a wealthy family, French born designer Jean Royére (1902-1981), began his career as a banker in the import-export trade, leaving it behind in 1931 at the age of 29 to pursue his passion for design. Under an apprenticeship with Pierre Gouff, he learned cabinetmaking and meticulous craftsmanship. In 1934, Royére won a prestigious competition to design the restaurant of the luxurious Hotel Carlton on the Champs-Élysées finding immediate success.

In 1942 Jean Royére founded his own company and built an international career with global clientele including the Shah of Iran, King Farouk of Egypt and King Hussein of Jordan. He pioneered an original style combining bright colors, organic forms and precious materials with a vivid imagination. His international clientele was captivated by his elegant, yet playful style and his patrons entrusted him with the design and layout of their palaces. Royére continued to produce imaginative luxurious pieces until 1972. Since his pieces were made to order His pieces are highly coveted across the world today with furniture garnering six figures, $500,000 and up.

Jean Royére - Ours Polaire sofa

The “you’ll want to melt into” “Ours Polaire” sofa (French for polar bear) is one of the most coveted pieces ever designed by Royére. With its organic, rounded “come to me” frame, this piece has a cult following among the Hollywood elite including Jennifer Aniston and Kanye West. Upholstered in a soft woolen velvet reminiscent of a plush polar bear, nothing says “let’s stay in” better than this sculptural piece, c. the 1940s. Royére’s pieces work beautifully with work from another icon of French Modernism, Jacques Adnet.

Royére’s “Liane” wall light, consists of organically shaped arms with five suspended parchment shades creating a spectacular focal point in any space. He offered these lamps in various configurations with varying numbers of lights, c. 1959.

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Architect – designer Eileen Gray was born into an aristocratic family in Ireland in 1878. She studied at the prestigious Slade School of Fine Art in London before moving to Paris to study at the Académie Julian. Gray quickly assimilated into the city’s bohemian circles and was exposed to the progressive ideas that would define her work. Although she didn’t attend the influential Bauhaus school in Germany, she shared many of its philosophies and ideologies.

Although Gray began her career as a painter, she soon turned to design, creating both furniture and interiors. In Paris, Gray began working as an interior designer and soon established a reputation for her sophisticated and modern aesthetic. Gray originally focused on an Art Deco design aesthetic, creating stunning pieces utilizing high gloss lacquer. A technique she passionately studied under the Japanese master Seizo Sugawara.

Eileen Gray Architect Designer

After becoming interested in architecture in the 1920s, she quickly shifted towards modernism and what came to be known as the International-style. Gray began a relationship with the French-Romanian architect Jean Badovici. The pair would eventually design a house together in the south of France, villa E-1027 in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin on the Côte d’Azur. At this time she began experimenting with furniture design, creating iconic pieces like the “Bibendum” chair and the “Adjustable Table.” Many of her pieces combine a chromed steel frame with some type of upholstery, most notably leather. Her furniture was highly sought after by the wealthy elites of Parisian society. She soon became one of the most celebrated designers in the city. Patrons and collectors alike are drawn to Gray’s designs which are characterized by their simplicity, beauty and functionality from sleek side tables to rugs and elegantly upholstered chairs. Her furniture and objects are true works of art. Each piece is carefully designed and crafted to perfection. Throughout her career, Gray remained committed to innovation and creativity.

Eileen Gray Architect designer  of the Bibendum chair

The Bibendum chair, designed in 1926 is a modern classic designed by Gray. The chair is made of curved tubular steel and leather and has a playful feminine character about it. It is curvaceous and comfortable with the shape reportedly influenced by the iconic overstuffed Michelin man character. The black-lacquered wood Block Screen, designed between 1922-1925 is a true work of art and showcases Gray’s ability to craft a modern piece influenced by Japanese decorative arts. Movable horizontal rows of panels are joined by steel rods creating a sculptural yet functional piece. The iconic screen is part of the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection and is available for purchase through ClassiCon.

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Arne Norell : Sumptuous Seating

Post-war designer Arne Norell, was born in Åsele, Sweden in 1917. In 1954, Norell opened a small furniture workshop in Stockholm and by 1958 he launched his eponymous manufacturing company, Møbel AB Arne Norell, still active today, with his work being carried on by his daughter and son-in-law. His company is set upon a two-acre farm in an idyllic countryside, which was the main source of inspiration for his work. Norell employed traditional materials, leather, turned and bentwood and metal in unexpected forms with a lyrical flair. His pieces are credited with an effortless casual character combined with all of the muted sophistication of Scandinavian modern design. Posthumously, in 1973, The British Furniture Manufacturers Association awarded Norell’s low-slung Ari Chair c.1966 – Showpiece of the Year.

Arne Norell Inca sofa

Norell’s Inca 2-seat sofa chair is a masterpiece of construction. The solid beech wood frame is held together by strong leather supports without glue or screws c.1960s.

Arne Norell Ari chair

The Ari chair received the most recognition for Norell. In black buffalo leather and brushed flat steel frame, this chair expresses his wonderful curvilinear style, c.1960s, still being manufactured today.

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William Haines: Halcyon Days of Hollywood

Designer William “Billy” Haines (1900-1973) was a classic renaissance man. Beginning his career as an actor in the early days of Hollywood, Haines with his boy-next-door good looks, starred in many films both silent and sound, becoming the number-one box office star of 1930. After leaving the film industry in 1936, he opened an antique store and went on to become one of Hollywood’s premier decorators, working friends and acquaintances from his influential circle of celebrities and bon vivants.

Haines was known for his interest in how people truly live, not just decorating for snob appeal. He and his team of designers created sleek, classic pieces that were low profile, functional yet elegant. His best friend and client Betsy Bloomingdale stated, “he designed all of my pieces low to the floor. That way people were grander, not the furniture.” In a bold move for the time, he dared to create an all-white living room, then took a 360 and generously splashed bright, brilliant colors through the home of Carole Lombard.

Haines designed interiors for the home of Ronald and Nancy Reagan while he was governor of California. In a prized commission, he was chosen as the interior designer (along with Ted Graber) for Walter and Leonore Annenberg’s estate, Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage. This spectacular mid-century modern estate designed by architect A. Quincy Jones was known for its pink roof and has been frequented throughout the years by both political leaders and celebrities alike.

William Haines Malibu Chair and Ottoman

Capturing the essence of California living, The Malibu Chair and Ottoman originally designed in 1950, is the perfect pairing for quintessential outdoor elegance. The powder-coated steel frame is upholstered in a white rayon blend, can be used indoors or out, and has been re-issued through williamhaines.com.

william billy haines sofa

This stunning statement piece, known as The Valentine Sofa, showcases Haines’ mastery of sleek, sexy, functional design. This sofa with a low tufted seat and leather-wrapped arm either in right or left orientation was first introduced in 1950 and lucky for us is currently still in production through williamhaines.com.  

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Italian architect and designer, Marco Zanuso (1916-2001) born in Milan, was one of the postwar designers shaping the international idea of “good design.” After receiving his degree in architecture at the Politecnico di Milano, he began his career as an architect, designer and city planner. Additionally, Zanuso was editor-in-chief of Domus magazine, the preeminent publication on architecture and design founded by Gio Ponti in 1928, from 1947-1949. As one of the leaders in the Italian Modern Movement he was a pioneer in furniture design, working with metal tubing and creating a new joining mechanism that allowed a fabric seat to be suspended from a tubular steel frame.

In the late 1940s, Zanuso began collaborating with Arflex, an Italian manufacturing company, to create a furniture collection using a newly developed polyurethane foam and elastic tape. It was for Arflex, he designed a series of pieces that would become icons of the modernist movement, among them, the Lady Armchair (1951) and the Sleep-o-matic sofa (1954). Between 1957-1959, Zanuso began collaborating with German industrial designer Richard Saper. It was with Saper, he created work devoted to the relationship of the user to the object. Together they pioneered a new aesthetic known as techno-functionalism, designing objects such as the Grillo telephone (1966) and the Brionvega (1962), the first fully-transistor television. These pieces were characterized by bright colors, synthetic materials and sculptural shapes. Zanuso’s work can be found in museums throughout the world including MoMA, the Met and the Triennale in Milan.

Marco Zanuso “Lady” lounge chair

One of Zanuso’s iconic pieces, the “Lady” lounge chair (1951), was the first armchair to incorporate expanded polyurethane and foam rubber. The armchair showcased a new system of springing, while the slender brass, slim-line legs suspend the body of the chair in an animated fashion.

Marco Zanuso “Sleep-o-matic” sofa

Forward-thinking Zanuso designed this “Sleep-o-Matic” sofa (1954) for Arflex with an internal metal mechanism that can easily be opened to become a sofa bed. Tubular metal structure with foam rubber padding.

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