Patronage and Design
Jean Royère, the interior decorator of Paris’ elite in the postwar period, approached design with a focus on luxe materials, richly hued colors, and an inventive formal language of elegance and whimsy. This bar, designed in 1955 displays an attention to texture and proportion through its metal and wood construction, ornamented simply with circular perforations that complement the precise, reductionist triangular construction supporting the bar top. The design combines curvilinear and geometric elements in a sophisticated way, modernizing the traditional bar construction seen in other Parisian interiors of the period. The circular motifs cut out along the wooden edge of the bar and the adjoining shelf are evocative of designs Royère illustrated in the late 1950s for room ensembles, notably an illustrated project for a private cinema for the Shah (Projet pour la salle de cinéma privée pour le Shah), illustrated in the collection of the Musée des Arts décoratifs, Paris, 1956-1958, which includes an architectural divider with a similar circular perforated design.
This bar originally belonged to the French educator Gaston Louis Eugène Dutilleul, who commissioned Royère to design furnishings for his numerous personal and professional establishments in the 1950s. Dutilleul was inspired by Royère’s highly modern and innovative approach to interior design, and was impressed by the designer’s gallery when it first opened in the Rue de Faubourg Saint-Honoré in 1949. The modernist International Style facade of the gallery signaled a new postwar movement excited by the exploration of new modern interiors, and re-envisioning the modern interior as a space of aesthetic experience and pleasure. This idea was further embodied in the gallery’s furnishings, which highlighted the luxury and beauty of essential form by eschewing historical ornamentation for inventive, often playful forms executed in the highest quality of craftsmanship. Dutilleul and Royère established a professional relationship designing for Dutilleul’s commissions, and they fostered a long term friendship.
Dutilleul’s commissions, and they fostered a long term friendship. Dutilleul commissioned Royère to design a vast number of objects for his residences and the townhouse that would become his school in the 1950s. Many of Dutilleul’s residences housed some of Royère’s most famous furnishing including the Ours Polaire armchairs and sofa, Trèfle chairs, a Flaque coffee table, as well as numerous examples of Royère’s finest lighting designs such as his Hérisson and Serpentine wall lamps.
Dutilleul is undoubtedly an important patron of Royère’s work, and their professional relationship shows that while the designer was primarily producing commissioned couture furnishings, these high-style pieces were also present within spaces other than the luxurious private interior, such as Dutilleul’s school for underprivileged children.