Born on today’s date in 1901, Jean Prouvé was among the most well-known French designers and architects of the mid-twentieth century. He was the son of Victor Prouvé, one of the founders of l’Ecole de Nancy—an Art Nouveau artist collective. This early exposure instilled in Prouvé the idea that art and industry were inherently linked, a concept he sought to express throughout his career.
This poster, designed by Siegfried Odermatt for an exhibition of Prouvé’s work at the Museum für Gestaltung (Museum of Applied Arts), Zürich, in 1978, expresses Prouvé’s industrial aesthetic. Using a photograph of Prouvé’s design for the Rotterdam Medical School of Erasmus University, Odermatt subtly references Prouvé’s preference for prefabricated industrial materials. The use of photography is characteristic of Odermatt’s style, since he was trained as a photographer. In addition, Odermatt reduces the color scheme of the poster to only three colors: black, white, and blue. By reducing the building to a gradient of blue, Odermatt is able to make the text of his poster stand out against the simplified background. He also weds the title of the exhibition, which shares Prouvé’s name, to the architecture of the building; both the text and the image draw the viewer’s eye up through the design.
Together with his partner, Rosmarie Tissi, Siegfried Odermatt runs one of the most prominent Swiss design firms, Odermatt & Tissi. The pair is known for their striking designs that convey a sense of effortless clarity. Odermatt & Tissi are also known for the importance they place on communicating information as clearly as possible. Thus, through his own aesthetic and preference for simple, straightforward design, Odermatt was able to evoke the style of Prouvé.
Jean Prouvé’s Coupe-Papier Letter Opener is available at shop.cooperhewitt.org
Today is Jean Prouvé’s birthday!