Mathieu Matégot: Perforated Perfection

Independent and self-taught Hungarian designer, Mathieu Matégot (1910-2001) spent most of his life living and working in his beloved Paris, where he settled after finishing his studies at Budapest’s School of Art and Architecture in 1937. Signing up as a volunteer for the French Army, Matégot was captured and held prisoner in Germany until his escape in 1944. It was during this time of incarceration while working in a plant manufacturing mechanical accessories he was able to learn about sheet metal techniques. He later named this technique “Rigitulle” where metal tubing, combined with perforated metal sheet takes on the characteristics of fabric. “Rigitulle” could be bent, folded, shaped to give the objects he created a sense of transparency and weightlessness.

Matégot traveled the world in search of inspiration and industrial processes, bringing the inspiration home to interpret and create his own designs. In the 1950’s he devoted most of his time to the design of furniture and interior accessories. To ensure quality in the production of his products, Matégot set up two workshops, one in Paris and a second in Casablanca, Morocco. He created handcrafted furniture and decorative accessories using a variety of materials such as metal, rattan, glass, Formica and perforated sheet metal. Two of his most well-known pieces are the three-legged “Nagasaki” chair (1954) and the “Copacabana” armchair (1955/56, shown below). At the beginning of the 1960’s Matégot abruptly changed his focus to tapestry design, which he would continue for the rest of his career.

Mathieu Matégot sconces

This trio of French wall sconces c. 1950’s, showcases Mathieu Matégot’s signature Rigitulle technique. Constructed of an enameled perforated metal shield with a brass rim and opaline glass shell, they are a combination of function and whimsy.

Mathieu Matégot Copacabana chairThe Copacabana lounge chair, c. 1955/56 consists of an organic tubular frame surrounding the round seat with a back made of perforated sheet metal. Another example of Matégot’s innovative Rigitulle technique. This chair is included in the design collection at the Museum of Deoratives Arts in Paris, at the Georges Pompidou Centre, and the National Museum of Modern Art. The chair is available as a re-issue today and still looks timeless and classic.

Mathieu Matégot pendant lights

These Satellite pendant lights, designed in 1953, also constructed via Matégot’s Rigitulle technique, were a tribute to the scientific progress in France in the years after the Second World War. The bulb, covered by the perforated metal sheet, exudes an atmospheric light and casts an interplay of shadows on walls and floors.

Mathieu Matégot magazine holder

Matégot’s magazine holder c. 1950, is a perfect example of his metalworking techniques. Bent tubular steel and perforated metal give rise to this beautifully functional decorative accessory.

Mathieu Matégot Cap d’Ail chair

The expressive “Cap d’Ail” chair c. 1950’s constructed of bent steel with a leather seat, takes on a distinctly French feel.

Mathieu Matégot coat rack

Matégot’s coat rack / hat stand with top shelf and mirror, c. 1950’s again uses his signature bent and perforated metal technique to create a functionally beautiful piece.

Mathieu Matégot tapestry

This hand-woven wool tapestry manufactured in Portugal c. 1960’s is an example of Mathieu Matégot’s career shift from furniture and decorative objects to the world of fiber and tapestry design.