Demisch Danant is presenting two rare and important works by the seminal French designer Jacques Dumond (1906–1991). The Low Table (1961) in aluminum and glass was commissioned for the SS France, and the Armchair in the same year, for the Maison de la Radio. These public commissions were two of the more ambitious and important projects undertaken by France in the early 1960’s, and celebrate the technical and industrial revolution occurring during the ‘Trentes Glorieuses’ era of economic prosperity and social change.
Jacques Dumond was a pivotal and prolific member of the post-war generation of designers who entirely re-invented the ‘canon’ of environmental living they had inherited from the modernist designers of the Union des artistes modernes (UAM). Actively involved as well in the industrial design movement, Dumond was the first to translate its materials into furniture construction. While his armchair uses traditional materials with a unique architectural profile, the low table designed for the SS France is a prime example of his novel investigation into the use of new materials. Integrating aluminum with stainless steel and glass was not only innovative but its lightness was uniquely suited to the requirements of a ship.
Dumond’s innate fluency in the use of these new materials as well as traditional craftmanship was to have a profound effect on the next generation of designers. His teaching and active participation as vice president of the Salon des artistes décorateurs (SAD) ensured that his explorations were well disseminated.
Our third selection, the Deux Arbres (1962) by Eugène Leroy (1910-2000), is part of the ongoing dialogue between art and design that has become a more active part of the current Demisch Danant program. While Leroy was not actually involved with the decoration of design commissions, the painting is exactly contemporary with the Dumond pieces. It was originally exhibited in Paris at the Galerie Claude Bernard in 1963.
At a time when abstraction was more mainstream for painters and sculptors, Leroy pursued his own unique vision driven by figural inspiration. While economic and technological changes impacted design movements and innovation in France, there has always been a consistent and non-categorical aspect to art and design emanating from individual inspiration and genius. Painting, while decorative and functional, also exists as pure creation. There have always been those contemporaries working outside the prevalent ‘box’. Nevertheless, looking back, these are very much integral to interior environments and, as such, speak to us with rich voices.