Bluette is a textile by an unknown designer made in the design school Atelier Martine. The school was founded by Paul Poiret (1879 – 1944), a celebrated Parisian couturier known for exotic fashions inspired by the Middle East and Asia. Named for his daughter, Atelier Martine embraced the notion of an unstudied, instinctive creativity. Poiret opened Atelier Martine in 1912 following a European tour where he was greatly impressed by the printed textiles of the Wiener Werkstätte of Vienna. There he saw an integrated approach to fashion and interior design through the use of hand-printed geometric textiles. Inspired by the Viennese commitment to the artistic process, he opened his own Paris school devoted to interior decoration. He selected untrained working-class girls to sketch exuberant, colorful designs of flowers, fruits and animals found at local parks, markets and zoos. Deliberately unsophisticated, the best designs were developed into drapery, upholstery, wallcoverings and carpets.
Produced as a textile and wallcovering, Cooper-Hewitt’s example of Bluette has a large-scale floral design in shades of pink, purple and green on a brown ground. Rendered in a simple outline, each petal and leaf is printed with flat areas of color to create a boldly modern design. Acquired in 1984, Bluette was a gift to the Cooper-Hewitt from Louise Dushkin, daughter of Louis Rorimer (1872 – 1939), a well-known interior designer from Cleveland, Ohio. He most likely purchased Bluette in Paris during one of his many buying trips for American clients. Rorimer believed art was essential to daily life: it was an approach to living he developed while studying art and design in Germany and France. When he returned to the United States, he began designing handcrafted furniture, and later, through a series of strategic mergers and partnerships, he expanded his interior design business to include hotel and residential accounts. The appeal of a textile like Bluette must have been immediate for Rorimer as he was a great admirer modernist European design.