The salon of the Callot Sisters fashion house at the Pavilion of Elegance designed by Rateau in 1925. Photograph by REP, Jean Collas collection, Musée des Arts Décoratifs

In an era when many modernists sought to reject ornamentation in favor of minimalism, Armand Albert Rateau pursued a divergent definition of modern, one which celebrated the luxurious interiors of the past. Rateau’s designs presented an unusual layering of ornate decorations drawn from antiquity, luxurious materials, and modern conveniences. His interiors often featured gilt and patinated bronze furniture, rich decorative paneling and precious silks and furs, illustrating a distinctive movement away from the stark austerity of the postwar years. Rateau’s uniquely imaginative and sophisticated designs provided a stark contrast to his contemporaries. Private clients actively sought his unusual interiors and the majority of his work was done on commission. Rateau’s diverse clientele displayed the great range of appeal of his redefined classicism. And yet one client, the couturier Jeanne Lanvin, provided Rateau the commissions that would establish his name as a premier French Art Deco designer.

In meeting Jeanne Lanvin, Rateau found a true muse and creative partner that shared his classically-inspired approach to modern design. Introduced by the fashion designer Paul Poiret in the early 1920s, these two fiercely independent thinkers would find artistic companionship that would last for many years. The two would collaborate to create a number of momentous interiors and public expositions, including the Pavilion of Elegance within the landmark 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes where Rateau’s designs accentuated Lanvin’s couture. A legacy of the collaboration of these two luminaries, Lanvin’s rue de Barbet de Jouy residence has been re-installed in the permanent collection of the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris.

This small-scaled carpet was designed by Rateau for the House of Lanvin, and showcases the bold modernist aesthetic that defined his landmark interiors.