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 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, think $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. Upholstered in a soft woolen velvet reminiscent of a plush polar bear, nothing says “let’s stay in” better than this sculptural piece, c. 1940’s.

Royére’s “Liane” wall light, consists of organic 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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Paul Laszlo : Sumptuous Modernity – Designer to the Stars

Hungarian born architect and interior designer Paul Laszlo (1900-1993) learned about the world of architecture and design through his father, a furniture manufacturer. After studying in Vienna and training in Stuttgart, Germany, he founded a studio at the age of 27, which would lead to his international reputation as a designer for the jet set. After fleeing Germany in 1936, Laszlo set out by ocean liner to New York, rented a car and drove directly to Los Angeles, where he quickly set himself up in affluent Beverly Hills on Rodeo Drive designing modern houses and interiors.

His refined yet relaxed cosmopolitan style, made him popular amongst the rich and famous. Among his many clients were Cary Grant, Gloria Vanderbilt, Billy Wilder, Barbara Hutton and Ronald Reagan. Laszlo had his own unique style, with his earliest designs reflecting the more traditional style of the era. As his career progressed, he became known for a more lavish society style, with generous proportions. With a focus on the interior environment, he designed furniture, fabrics, lamps and rugs choosing to craft and choreograph the overall feeling of a space. Laszlo’s warm, organic forms and mastery of color lead to decades of success across a wide range of projects. He was equally famous for rejecting clients when he thought the relationship would be unsatisfactory to him. He is famously known for refusing to work with Elizabeth Taylor in 1960, at the height of her celebrity, due to her demands for input on the design process. He later rejected working with Barbra Streisand for many of the same reasons.

Paul Laszlo served in both World Wars. In WWII, he served domestically, even designing a bomb shelter for the US Air Force. Additionally, Laszlo designed for department stores, Saks, Hudson’s Bay, Robinson’s as well as casinos. Paul Laszlo was a complete designer, working much the same way Frank Lloyd Wright did, even choosing the right ashtray for the space.

Paul Laszlo lounge chairEasy lounge chair and ottoman, this beautifully proportioned chair is crafted in solid mahogany with a woven rattan seat and back. Created for the manufacturer Glenn of California and made in the USA during the 1950’s.

Laszlo for Brown SaltmanStunning oak three-drawer chest, designed by Laszlo for Brown Saltman c. 1950’s. This three-dimensional piece perched upon a flat plinth exemplifies his attention to detail and form.

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Dan Johnson : Sculptural Modernism – Post War California Furniture Designer

The majority of the postwar California furniture designers found inspiration in free-form biomorphic shapes with forward-looking parabolic forms utilizing experimental materials, designer Dan Johnson (1918-1979) was an exception. While Johnson’s earlier furniture pieces (late 1940s) looked more familiar, with folded planes of wood, blocky modern forms, and integrated pulls, his style drastically shifted after moving to Rome in the mid-1950s. Opening Dan Johnson Studio, he began creating pieces marked by their elegant sculptural form, looking back to Roman antiquity to find inspiration. Working in cast bronze, Johnson designed a series of spectacular sculptural pieces with his most well-known being the Gazelle chair. This mid-century silhouette combines function with a rare curvilinear shape. The graceful Gazelle chairs and tables were likely inspired by the animals depicted in early Roman hunting scenes. Johnson later wrote to a friend, he is taking “a modern approach to the ancient Roman stuff I appreciated so much.”

Dan Johnson lounge chair

This early rare Dan Johnson lounge chair utilizes an iron frame and steam bent walnut plywood armrest to create an elegant shape, c. early 1950s.

Dan Johnson Satyr table

Inspired by Johnson’s residency in Rome, this Satyr table and four Gazelle chairs are a truly fantastic set. Cast in bronze with cane seats and backs, the blue-green patina, aged finish shows the influence of his connection to the past.

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Swiss architect and designer Pierre Jeanneret (1896 – 1967) collaborated with his well-known cousin Charles Edouard Jeanneret (aka Le Corbusier) for about twenty years. Pierre Jeanneret was brought on to design the furniture for India’s city of Chandigarh, at the urging of Le Corbusier (who was the project’s architect). Chandigarh was a new modern model of a city conceived by Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister. Nehru’s intention for Chandigarh (named for Chandi, Hindu goddess of power) was to create a city that would “be a new town, symbolic of the freedom of India, unfettered by the traditions of the past.” Le Corbusier was hired to create a master plan for the city, and it was to become his largest and most ambitious project, involving residential, commercial, industrial areas, parks and a complex of government buildings. Jeanneret designed furniture for the entire project, using inexpensive locally-sourced bug and humidity resistant teak. During his partnership with Corbusier, Jeanneret also worked with Charlotte Perriand and they joined forces with Jean Prouvé in 1940 to research the potential of prefabricated housing. Jeanneret, sympathizing with the Communists, joined the French resistance, while Corbusier’s authoritarian leanings let him to elicit work from the Vichy Government and Italian Fascists. Jeanneret, inspired by the local traditional craftsmanship “cobbled together” rudimentary, yet ingenious furniture with bamboo sticks, iron rods, rope, can and straps. Eventually, he created more evolved “low-cost” furniture pieces, classified according to their leg shape, “V, X, Y and Z.” Most pieces were held together with two screws, and sometimes no screws at all. Jeanneret developed pieces for Knoll International, however, it was his time in Chandigarh that most profoundly affected him.

Pierre Jeanneret Office Chairs

Jeanneret’s Office Chairs c. 1956, showcase his upside down “V” leg design. The chair is constructed of teak with a cane seat and backrest that seems to float in space.

The Committee Armchair, c. 1953, a more elegant chair in teak and leather with detached armrests and rounded cuffs and “V” leg design. All the leather used in the Chandigarh project was from cows that died of natural causes.

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Erich Dieckmann: Balanced Bauhaus

Berlin-born designer Erich Dieckmann (1896-1944) is one of the most important furniture designers of the Bauhaus. Much like Marcel Breuer, Dieckmann experimented with steel tubing and its application in the design of furniture – however, he is primarily known for his pieces in wood. In 1921, he enrolled at the Bauhaus in Weimar and between 1921-1925, he served an apprenticeship there as a carpenter. Erich Dieckmann’s designs for seating pieces are strictly geometric, consisting of frames based on right angles and curves which were virtually square or circular in cross-section. Another typical feature of his work is linking armrests and chair legs in a runner construction. Dieckmann used quality hardwoods, beech, cherry, oak and ash as well as rattan and cane matting which moderated the austere geometry of the pieces. Standardization of construction was emphasized to keep the prices of these mass-produced pieces as low as possible.

Erich Dieckmann armchair

A rare Dieckmann creation c. 1930, this custom armchair was ordered by Adriaan Roland Holst from Sloterdijjkm, The Netherlands. Consisting of a painted tube steel construction, with a wicker seat and back and lacquered wood armrests. This rare armchair is currently up for auction.

Another prime armchair, c. 1931 showcasing Dieckmann’s style of linking armrests with chair legs in a runner manner. The nickel-plated tubular steel boasts a black stretched canvas fabric back and seat with stained beech wood armrests, was originally manufactured for Cebaso, Ohrdruf.

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