Serge Mouille 1922–1988
Serge Mouille, born in Paris in 1922, began his education as a silversmith at the School of Applied Arts in Paris. A brilliant student, Mouille began teaching at the school shortly after graduation but his career was put on hold during World War II as he fought in the French Resistance. Following the war, Mouille became interested in automobiles, and he, along with Pierre Pothier and Jean-Pierre Darnat, designed the sleek stainless steel Zebra car in 1952. Sadly the car was never mass-produced.
Mouille then turned his attention to founding his own metalworking atelier. Tired of the popularity of Italian lighting which he found over-complicated, Mouille sought to modernize French lighting designs. Inspired by the curvaceous forms of both the female body and the organic world, he utilized voluptuous lines and the color black to create designs of stylistic harmony. His lighting designs are also kinetic works that define space, a feature that has been compared to the work of his contemporary, Alexander Calder. With a strict desire to reject mass-production, each of Mouille’s designs were handcrafted by expert metalsmiths at the atelier.
Mouille’s works garnered praise and in 1956 his pieces were shown in the gallery of Steph Simon alongside designs by Isamu Noguchi and Charlotte Perriand. In 1958, Mouille was invited to exhibit his work at the World’s Fair in Brussels, where his lighting designs won the Diploma of Honor. Experimenting with florescent lighting in 1962, Mouille created his Colonnes collection of floor lights, which utilized the simple lines and the materiality of neon. His work soon became so popular, that the demand outpaced his ability to fulfill orders. Forced to consider mass-production, but instead of sacrificing hand-made quality he chose to close his atelier in 1964. Mouille spent the rest of his life teaching silversmithing at the School of Applied Arts. Mouille died in 1988.