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Jean Prouvé was a self-taught furniture designer and architect and in 1947 he designed a pre-fab unit to address post-war housing needs
Franz Kafka. Galileo Galilei. Vincent van Gogh. Why is it that the true value of so many visionaries is only recognized after their death?
Though he was far from a failure — he had a large, cutting-edge factory and won several architecture prizes during his lifetime — the pioneering pre-fab housing of French designer Jean Prouvé has only become sought-after in the past decade.
The same can be said of his modernist furniture. His university canteen chairs were once snapped up for a bargain at flea markets, but last year his Trapeze refectory table sold for a record $1.3 million at a Paris auction.
After the Second World War, there was a dire need for cheap, quick-to-produce housing. Bombing had destroyed millions of homes — in France, 1,836 municipalities were officially declared war damaged, some 18% of all buildings.
Jean Prouvé thought he had a solution. A son of one of the founders of Ecole de Nancy — France‘s Art Nouveau hub — he grew up with the school’s central ethos: to grow links between art and industry, and make art accessible to all. […]