The recently expanded Vitra showroom in Culver City is presenting Prouvé RAW, a special edition of the French master’s office furniture produced as a joint venture between Vitra and the Dutch jeans company G-Star RAW. Familiar designs have been subtly tweaked, and given a fresh look with a palette of greens (inspired by antique sewing machines), gray fabrics and natural wood. They focus renewed attention on the genius of this craftsman-engineer, a pioneer of prefabrication, who began his career as a craftsman in the city of Nancy.
In his lifetime he struggled for recognition and was forced to surrender his factory, but since his death his reputation has grown expotentially. Prouvé was dedicated to the concept of economy and mass production of basic forms. Ironically, this frugal furniture—designed for state schools, university halls of residence and workaday needs—has become a costly collector’s trophy and icon of industrial chic. A high proportion of these “originals” may be fakes, newly produced and cunningly distressed to meet the swelling demand. The impeccably finished re-editions from Vitra may prove a much better buy, especially since production of this special edition will cease at the end of 2016. A well-illustrated catalog is available on request. —Michael Webb
The Prouvé exhibition at the Vitra showroom in the Helmes Bakery, 8753 Washington Blvd, Culver City, runs through September 21.