the day I discovered Pierre Paulin

Paris, June 2016, a Sunday afternoon. The sky is dark, it’s raining, I’m cold. A day made to hang out in a museum. The Centre Pompidou museum honored the French designer Pierre Paulin. This is the first design exhibition I’ve seen, and I think it marks the beginning of a certain fascination for this art.

Fauteuil AP14, Anneau, 1954, Pierre Paulin exhibition at the Centre Pompidou museum
Fauteuil AP14, Anneau, 1954

I had never heard of Pierre Paulin before discovering the exhibition. In fact, I didn’t know much about design at that time. Things were well orchestrated for a first discovery; this exhibition was superb, skillfully scenographed. It recounted forty years of creation with more than seventy pieces of furniture and about fifty unpublished drawings.

The exhibition began with a video of Pierre Paulin, in which he brought his vision of design. This interview was a really interesting element, almost indispensable. It allowed visitors to know the artist’s approach, and thus to better understand his creations, or at least to be able to approach them with a finer look.

As in every exhibition staging the design, it seems important to me to be able to physically discover the piece, to touch it, to experience it. Designed objects have a particular aesthetic, but mostly fulfill a function. How to understand the characteristics of an armchair or judge its comfort without sitting there? Being able to touch, curl up on a sofa, or just take a closer look at it, removes a certain distance that can be created between the artpiece and the viewer. The exhibition on Pierre Paulin invited the visitor to establish a dialogue between body and comfort. The designer’s research was motivated by the themes of comfort and a new lifestyle, at floor level, for example. The course then offered the public to sit in Pierre Paulin’s most emblematic seats. Videos were projected over the exhibition in darker spaces, where reissues were made available to visitors.

“There are two profiles of designers:
engineers (…), who think about design in a rational and mental way
and the adventurers, the autodidacts of which I am a part.”

Pierre Paulin
Fauteuil CM170, Tripode cage, 1955, Pierre Paulin exhibition at the Centre Pompidou museum
Fauteuil CM170, Tripode cage, 1955

“A chair should be more than simply functional.”

Pierre Paulin
Déclive, 1968 // Tapis Siège, 1970, Pierre Paulin exhibition at the Centre Pompidou museum
Déclive, 1968 // Tapis Siège, 1970
Fauteuil F675, Butterfly, 1963, Pierre Paulin exhibition at the Centre Pompidou museum
Fauteuil F675, Butterfly, 1963

This piece is my favorite of the exhibition. She seems so light and sturdy at the same time. The bent and chromed steel wire structure gives this impression of stability. The black leather, which I love the use, brings the notion of comfort, by its flexibility and its cut so clear and well thought.

Armchair of the dining room, Elysee Palace, 1971-1972 // Elysee desert, 1971 // Elysee armchair, 1972, Pierre Paulin exhibition at the Centre Pompidou museum
Armchair of the dining room, Elysee Palace, 1971-1972 // Elysee desert, 1971 // Elysee armchair, 1972

Pierre Paulin was chosen in 1971 by Claude and Georges Pompidou to revisit the layout of the private apartments of the Elysée Palace. This work is one of the highlights of the designer’s career. I really like these creations, between sculptures and functional pieces. They give off a feeling of calm, suppleness and softness.

Armchair of the dining room, Elysee Palace, 1971-1972, Pierre Paulin exhibition at the Centre Pompidou museum
Armchair of the dining room, Elysee Palace, 1971-1972

Designer, interior architect, creator, Pierre Paulin was a real sculptor of space. His research and creations were at the service of the body. Distinguished from the National Grand Prize for Industrial Creation in 1987, his pieces have been awarded numerous prizes. They appear among the collections of the MoMA in New York, the Pompidou Center in Paris, or the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Today, the preservation and enhancement of Pierre Paulin’s heritage is ensured by the family business Paulin, Paulin, Paulin.

Discover the exhibition in detail with the video presentation of the Centre Pompidou museum.

Whether you know or not the design of Pierre Paulin, do not hesitate to leave me your impressions, I will be delighted to read you.