g-star and vitra revive jean prouvé design classics
The denim brand had their office kitted out in Prouvé furniture, before manufacturing the industrial design classics for the masses.
"It's kind of like brand sex, where it's not a one night stand," is how G-Star's Global Brand Director Shubhankar Ray described the denim label's collaboration with Swiss furniture manufacturer Vitra, in a seminar at Vitra's London showroom during Clerkenwell Design Week. The two industry powerhouses have come together to design and manufacture furniture by the late French architect and industrial designer Jean Prouvé, titled Prouvé RAW, after G-Star kitted their office out in Prouvé remakes and wanted to enable others to do the same.
The founders of G-Star are big fans of Jean Prouvé, Shubhankar said, explaining that they are collectors of his now astronomically-priced original furniture. In 2007, a prefab "tropical house on stilts" sold for $4.97 million in an auction at Christie's in New York and in 2004, a set of doors fetched $680,000 at Sotheby's. However, in his lifetime, the iconic designer was not making elaborate pieces for the rich, but simple designs for mass production, to be used in public buildings, factories and universities. Prouvé was a man who joined the French resistance and later became the mayor of his hometown, Nancy, in France; he made furniture for the masses, from cheap fabrics like sheet metal.
G-Star brought more than a "touch of fashion" to the collaboration, Vitra's Chief Design Officer Eckart Maise explained at the event, admitting, "they knew more about Prouvé than we did!" Though the chairs were made to Prouvé's original manufacturing specifications, G-Star worked on the colours and finishes, the leather, wood and muted, industrial colour palette.
Proof that industrial design doesn't mean Metropolis-style drudgery, the Prouvé furniture that fills the G-Star offices has witnessed some pretty wild scenes. "We did a Berlin burlesque-inspired fashion show," Shubhankar beams, "where we set up all the Prouvé tables to be the runway, with the audience sitting in the Prouvé director's chairs, and Agyness Deyn MCing, like a cabaret club with a strange fashion show slash mime performance going on."