Recherche  18 November 2014

Rare and Important Professor Desk for the Université de Lille

Beginning in the mid-1930s, Jean Prouvé explored numerous designs for desks to meet the needs of an expanding population in France. The desks were largely developed for use in commercial and educational commissions, but later proved useful for domestic interiors. Prouvé’s desks clearly reflect the principles of structural engineering as implemented in his architectural practice. Four basic types of leg structure were developed and variations within these types culminated in the Professor desk of 1952.

The earliest leg type was developed for C.P.D.E. in 1934 by Prouvé. These desks feature two pairs of rectangular shaped legs set perpendicular to each other at the outer perimeter of the design. In the 1940s, the legs became parallel pairs and are flush with or inset from the desktop to support variations of drawer cabinets. The legs narrow as they meet the floor, predicting the Compas structure of the 1950s. In the Professor desk, there is a combination 
of leg pairs, set perpendicular to each other and both inset and flush with the corners of the large-scale desktop.

In 1952, Jean Prouvé was commissioned to provide furnishings for lecture halls at the Faculté des Lettres, Université de Lille. In addition to built-in seating for students, only three examples of the large-scale Professor desks were produced for this commission. With its boldly placed legs tipped in stainless steel and supporting a curved oak top, this masterpiece of structural design and sculptural form is a culmination of twenty years of desk designs by Jean Prouvé.

Jean Prouvé 1901–1984

Jean Prouvé was born in Nancy, France, in 1901. Prouvé‘s father Victor founded the École de Nancy, an Art Nouveau school that focused on hand-made objects. Apprenticing with an ironsmith as a teenager, he learned the value of simple forms and metalworking techniques. Prouvé founded his studio, Ateliers Jean Prouvé in 1923 and created restrained metal objects that rejected excess decoration. Within his workshop, he favored industrial materials like sheet steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. Engineers employed these materials in the emerging aircraft industry, and these materials inspired Prouvé to design a pre-fabricated houses with Le Corbusier in 1923 that was reminiscent  of aircraft design. Working with Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand, Prouvé created breathtaking furniture that forged the process of prefabrication. Prouvé tirelessly focused on finding creative and useful solutions to design problems throughout his career, crafting everything from aluminum vacation homes to university bookcases, living by his words that one should “never design anything that cannot be made.”

Auction Results Jean Prouvé

JEAN PROUVÉ, rare and important Professor desk for the Université de Lille | Wright20.com

Jean Prouvé

rare and important Professor desk for the Université de Lille
estimate: $250,000–350,000
result: $293,000

JEAN PROUVÉ, refectory table from the Holiday Camp at Saint-Brevin | Wright20.com

Jean Prouvé

refectory table from the Holiday Camp at Saint-Brevin
estimate: $150,000–200,000
result: $252,000

JEAN PROUVÉ, No. 4 chairs, set of ten | Wright20.com

Jean Prouvé

No. 4 chairs, set of ten
estimate: $80,000–100,000
result: $144,000

JEAN PROUVÉ, No. 4 chairs, set of eight | Wright20.com

Jean Prouvé

No. 4 chairs, set of eight
estimate: $50,000–70,000
result: $132,000

JEAN PROUVÉ, Flavigny table | Wright20.com

Jean Prouvé

Flavigny table
estimate: $20,000–30,000
result: $131,000

JEAN PROUVÉ, rare table | Wright20.com

Jean Prouvé

rare table
estimate: $20,000–30,000
result: $131,000

JEAN PROUVÉ, Marcoule banquette from the Centre de Readaptation Fonctionnelle, Nancy | Wright20.com

Jean Prouvé

Marcoule banquette from the Centre de Readaptation Fonctionnelle, Nancy
estimate: $30,000–50,000
result: $110,500

JEAN PROUVÉ, pair of lounge chairs | Wright20.com

Jean Prouvé

pair of lounge chairs
estimate: $70,000–90,000
result: $104,500

JEAN PROUVÉ, Tropique dining table, model 503 | Wright20.com

Jean Prouvé

Tropique dining table, model 503
estimate: $70,000–90,000
result: $96,000

JEAN PROUVÉ, Demountable chairs, set of 6 | Wright20.com

Jean Prouvé

Demountable chairs, set of 6
estimate: $40,000–60,000
result: $82,600

JEAN PROUVÉ, Comblanchien dining table | Wright20.com

Jean Prouvé

Comblanchien dining table
estimate: $40,000–50,000
result: $78,000

JEAN PROUVÉ, bed no. 102 from Lycée Fabert, Metz | Wright20.com

Jean Prouvé

bed no. 102 from Lycée Fabert, Metz
estimate: $40,000–60,000
result: $75,000

JEAN PROUVÉ, Standard chairs, set of twelve | Wright20.com

Jean Prouvé

Standard chairs, set of twelve
estimate: $40,000–50,000
result: $66,000

JEAN PROUVÉ, Important cabinet, no. 150 | Wright20.com

Jean Prouvé

Important cabinet, no. 150
estimate: $60,000–80,000
result: $65,000

JEAN PROUVÉ, Standard chairs no. 305, set of six | Wright20.com

Jean Prouvé

Standard chairs no. 305, set of six
estimate: $30,000–40,000
result: $64,900

JEAN PROUVÉ, coffee table | Wright20.com

Jean Prouvé

coffee table
estimate: $30,000–40,000
result: $64,800

JEAN PROUVÉ, Important cabinet, no. 150 | Wright20.com

Jean Prouvé

Important cabinet, no. 150
estimate: $60,000–80,000
result: $62,500

JEAN PROUVÉ, coffee table | Wright20.com

Jean Prouvé

coffee table
estimate: $30,000–40,000
result: $61,200

JEAN PROUVÉ, Standard chairs no. 305, set of six | Wright20.com

Jean Prouvé

Standard chairs no. 305, set of six
estimate: $50,000–70,000
result: $60,000

JEAN PROUVÉ, porthole panel | Wright20.com

Jean Prouvé

porthole panel
estimate: $40,000–60,000
result: $60,000

JEAN PROUVÉ, armoire, model AP11 | Wright20.com

Jean Prouvé

armoire, model AP11
estimate: $15,000–20,000
result: $60,000

JEAN PROUVÉ, Standard desk, no. 21 | Wright20.com

Jean Prouvé

Standard desk, no. 21
estimate: $40,000–50,000
result: $57,500

JEAN PROUVÉ, coffee table | Wright20.com

Jean Prouvé

coffee table
estimate: $25,000–30,000
result: $56,400

JEAN PROUVÉ, Comblanchien coffee table | Wright20.com

Jean Prouvé

Comblanchien coffee table
estimate: $30,000–40,000
result: $55,200

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