The Mobilier National is the successor to the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne (the entity originally responsible for the safeguarding of royal furnishings and tapestries), which was reorganized by Colbert in 1663; its structure still serves as the basis for the current administration’s organization. In addition to maintaining inventories and conserving and caring for furnishings, the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne also acted as an important force for preserving classic techniques through its traditional workshops. It was responsible for furnishing royal residences and issued the commissions necessary for these programs. This remains the central role for the Mobilier National, which is now responsible for the interior design and furnishing of presidential residences, as well as official buildings (ministries, embassies, major government agencies, the National Assembly, and the Senate).
In the early 1960s, the French government, under the leadership of André Malraux, then the Minister of Culture, inaugurated a policy of supporting creative endeavor; the objective was to provide genuine patronage that would foster the revival of French furniture design. As part of this commitment, the Atelier de Recherche et de Création (ARC) was established in 1964 under the direction of Jean Coural. The mission of this entity was to promote contemporary French styles, providing designers with modern technical resources and manufacturers with distribution opportunities, based on carefully directed research.
The ARC is a research laboratory with a highly qualified staff devoted to studying new materials and creating prototypes that are developed through collaboration with designers and in close cooperation with interested manufacturers. The design models remain the property of the government but may be subsequently distributed by a French producer.
The finest designers of the 1960s and 1970s worked with Mobilier National, and the most significant creations of the era were products of this venture. Since its inception, the ARC has produced over 500 pieces of furniture, including special commissions for french pavilions at expositions of Montreal and Osaka, presidential residences and offices, and more recently the French embassy in Berlin and the Ministry of Culture and of Communication.
Exhibition: Mobilier National, New York, November 8 – February 11, at Demisch Danant
Intrigued by the confrontation between savoir-faire and contemporary culture, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac accepted the challenge proposed by LAQ to be involved in the creation of the Mingskatable. From discussions to reflections, the designers from LAQ and JCDC designed a resolutely contemporary coffee table combining beauty and originality. Resulting from the clash between the history of Chinese Ming furniture, the ancestral art of Japan and urban culture, the Mingskatable table evokes both the golden age of Chinese furniture and ‘street culture.’
Mingskatable, by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac and LAQ Executive, at Galerie BSL, Paris
In 1938, with the success of, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Walt Disney began to plan the construction of the ultimate animation studio in Burbank, California. Walt wanted his studio designed to facilitate optimum production, which is why he commissioned the design of the Airline Chair (1934). The chair was used by the animators throughout the studio including the screening room. Produced in limited quantities for Walt, the original Airline Chair has become one of the most sought after Art Moderne products ever designed. In 2007, Walt Disney Signature, Disney’s adult lifestyle brand, contacted Cory to imagine a new armchair and ottoman inspired by the original chair from 1934. Through careful design choices, the chair references the past but appears light, elegant and unmistakably modern.
Airline_009 Chair, by Cory Grosser, for Walt Disney Signature
Monolithic storage units with birch drawers and surfaces available in maistral copper, acid-etched iron and acid-etched brass–an object so desirable you may need house insurance. As a living object, its material is cut by the nature which emerges from it. And so nature turns into the main character.
Celato, R&D De Castelli, for De Castelli
“To design a new bistro chair for Thonet is a touchy task. Initially I was proposed to customize a typical Thonet chair for the Corso restaurants of which’s design I am in charge of. But I preferred to elaborate a new chair instead of producing one more Designer comment on this essential piece of furniture. My starting point was the fact that today chair 214 (historically baptized Nr. 14) is rather expensive, which represents a certain break in regards to Thonet’s history. Indeed the company is renewed for being the first having achieved a world wide distribution of their furniture thanks to it’s ingenious conception based on dismantling. Yet, after more than 40 millions sold chairs the manufacturing of the backpart is still rather traditional. With chair 107 I focussed on a new design of that element which is now being produced in an almost totally automated process.”
TOR is a side table that does not need a fixed location, it is designed to be moved around. The legs extend through the tabletop creating the grip and giving the table its playful and charming character. The raised rim of the surface prevents objects from falling off.
TOR, by Lambie & Van Hengel, for Montis
After a visit at the glass factory in the Nuutajärvi village in the middle of Finland, Swedish designer Matti Klenell found a very special design by Kaj Franck. It ended up with a personal interpretation of the table as a homage to the great Finnish designer.
“The Nuutajärvi village in the middle of Finland has one major industry and that is their famous glass factory. Over the years masters such as Tapio Wirkkala and Kaj Franck worked here as artistic leaders and much of their designs are still in production by Iittala who the factory now belongs to. In the 1970s Kaj Franck designed a small museum dedicated to glass in an old building that used to serve as a brewery. It’s a beautiful space with an almost mysterious aura. One of the items on display stayed in my mind long after paying my first visit. It was a low table with strange legs. On the table top there was a map showing the Nuutajärvi surroundings displayed under a glass surface and on top of that laid a thick piece of solid glass to use as a magnifying glass enabeling you to properly read all the details of the layout. I decided to design a remake of it. Something different but with an echo of what I remembered from the museum. My table is made of solid ash wood and the top is an engraved glass sheet. The detailed drawing is based on various sketches I made during the project and took me four days to engrave.”
- Matti Klenell
Ja-mi-rang refers to falling into sleep, with sleep in Korean language. Glamorous solid characteristic shows comfort that ease the tension, straightly stretched legs from round cushion express its abstained force on soft lines.
Jamirang sofa No.1, Jamirang sofa No.2, by Bora Kim
The idea for the aluminum stool came from a fascination with airplane, bridge and ship building parts that plainly display the way the industrial machine body is assembled. Made from five 18 gauge bent and riveted aluminum pieces, the stool is naturally strong and light and weighs less than 2 lbs., which makes it inexpensive to ship to you and easy for you to carry around. Once assembled, the metal parts are power coated, then the seat is cut from 1/4” thick natural wool felt, and adhered to the stool to serve as a soft resilient pad for the body.
Aluminum Stool #1, by Monstrans