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News / Objects / Events / ” Already seen ! »: When objects tell the story of the company
13/09/2021

” Already seen ! »: When objects tell the story of the company

At the museum of modern and contemporary art in Saint-Etienne, the exhibition “Deja vu! Design in our daily life” offers a selection of pieces of furniture and objects from the 1950s to the present day. The general public will be pleased to recognize certain design icons, and will be delighted to find everyday objects, which have really been part of the daily life of several generations. The commissioner Imke Plinta offers an airy scenography, which allows you to turn well around the rooms, most often exposed on the floor.

As she tells us immediately during the visit, Imke Plinta is “ neither art historian nor product designer “ . Graphic designer, she has worked a lot with Ruedi Baur, and explores in his works the inscription “ of design in a context. “ This exhibition “Deja-vu!” was born from a meeting with Aurélie Voltz, director of the museum, who is committed to promoting one of the most important design collections in France.

Over the course of the exhibition, the choice of pieces and staging shows how design responds to needs and reflects societal changes. As an echo to the current sanitary period, the route begins with a set designed by Jean Prouvé and Jules Leleu for a sanatorium in Savoy for patients with tuberculosis: the order at the time wanted the furniture to meet standards of hygienic, robust, and reproducible in series at low cost. The designers’ response will focus on a set in wood and metal.

© Aurélien Mole / MAMC+

Jules-Émile Leleu, Furniture for a bedroom in the Martel-de-Janville sanatorium, 1934, folded, welded and lacquered sheet metal, wood, textile, editor: Ateliers Jean Prouvé, Nancy (France), MAMC + collection
Anonymous, CIT phone, circa 1937, resin, MAMC + collection
Aldo Magnelli, Adriano Magnelli, Typewriter MP 1, 1932, metal, editor and manufacturer: Olivetti Spa, Ivrea (Italy), collection MAMC +
View of the Deja-vu exhibition. Design in our daily life at the Saint-Étienne Métropole Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, until August 22, 2021.

Mobilier conçu par Jean Prouvé et Jules Emile Leleu. © ND

The first room is dedicated to housing as a whole, in particular documented by a photo report from the interwar period on a working-class city, which bears witness to the effects of a demographic surge and a housing crisis, then the construction of large complexes which started in the 1950s. To note for the visitor who has a little time: a film looks back on the promise of a new life, through the accommodations to come of modern cities, conceived in the spirit of the Charter of Athens under the aegis of Le Corbusier.

From housing policy to interior design

The course continues by tackling the design of the furniture for the new homes in the reconstruction effort. In particular, there is an important focus on the work of Michel Mortier, a member from 1952 of the society of decorative artists. Within Marcel Gascoin’s agency, he is leading a reflection on the precept “the container must adapt to the content”. He starts from the use: the frequency of use of objects to determine their placement and thus design the furniture in a very rational way. Alongside the prototypes are exhibited drawings with gouache collages, which also bear witness to the working methods of the time.

© Aurélien Mole / MAMC+

Michel Mortier, Hanging sideboard, 1958, wood panels veneered in merisie, publisher: Dassas (France), MAMC + collection
Michel Mortier, Untitled, ink on tracing paper, circa 1958, MAMC + collection
Michel Mortier, Armchair, fireside chair and chair, MP 2 series, solid beech, plywood and polyethylene, editor: Maison française, Rennes (France), MAMC + collection
Already seen. Design in our daily life at the Saint-Étienne Métropole Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, until August 22, 2021.

From decorating artists to designers

From the Salon des Arts Ménagers in Prisunic, from the Union des Artistes Modernes to “pop” designers, including Pierre Paulin, Raymond Loewy and the Memphis group, the third room the exhibition focuses on the upheavals of everyday life for the French: parallel to the evolutions of materials, techniques, and aspirations of the company, the design penetrates the daily newspaper with the proposal of objects and furniture with the new esthetics. As Imke Plinta explains, “We also approach the habitat piece by piece, and no longer in a global concept, we become more individual”. Between pop design and industrial aesthetics, the visitor walks around iconic objects such as the Tam-Tam designed by Henry Massonnet, and the Prisunic collections – under the artistic direction of Jacques Putman – in which young designers of the time participate, in the image of Marc Held’s bed. “For the consumer, furnishing becomes as common as dressing.”

Déjà-vu. Le design dans notre quotidien au Musée d’art moderne et contemporain de Saint-Étienne Métropole, jusqu’au 22 août 2021. © Aurélien Mole / MAMC+

Daily life is also upset in the professional space by technological developments and the arrival of new tools. Like Olivetti’s “Programma 101”, which is an example of a computer that can be placed on a desk, and whose design was entrusted to Mario Bellini. For the anecdote, it is today difficult to imagine how much this machine, used since the Sixties by the NASA, is part of the “tools” of the design of the program of Apollo 11.

''Déjà-Vu'' - Olivetti © ND

Charles & Ray Eames, La Fonda Chair, 1961, unsaturated polyester resin reinforced with glass fibers (GUP) and textile covering, publisher Herman Miller Inc., Zeeland (United States), MAMC + collection
On the table :
Mario Bellini, Personal computer Programma 101, 1969, metal and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), publisher Olivetti Spa, Ivrea (Italy), collection MAMC +
Joe Colombo, Lamp KD29, circa 1967, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), publisher Kartell, Noviglio (Italy), collection MAMC +

In this evolution from “industrial aesthetics” to design, the 80s were marked by the Memphis group, to which a section of the exhibition is dedicated, and which reports these words from Andrea Branzi: ” With Memphis, we have found a mode of organization and production which has allowed us to break the normal relationship between design and industry and to put industry at the service of designers, instead of being ourselves at the service of design. ‘industry. » A playful approach, which opens up the fields of creation: as Imke Plinta says “the design is conceived as a box of games and tools” .

Design and household art

The route also gives pride of place to the appearance of household objects. As Imke Plinta recalls: “ Society has experienced a real change in lifestyle. From the immediate post-war period to the post-war boom, a radical transformation took place in the habitat – from an architectural point of view – and in the interiors. This period is also when women began to work outside the home, hence the appearance of household objects that were intended to make their lives easier. Of course today we do not interpret it in the same way, but this “feminine liberation” was at the time a real commercial argument. ”

The visitor thus finds a whole collection of objects which are once again familiar to him, in this idea of “déjà vu”. A series of irons demonstrates changes in shape and weight, but also the addition of functions, notably with the first folding travel iron made by Pierre Paulin. The evocation of the Frankfurt kitchen is also an opportunity to address the rationalization of this room and its evolution, through ever more functional workspaces, the development of household appliances, since the evolution of coffee machines. up to mixing robots.

At the same time, the exhibition offers two winks of these objects so linked to our daily lives. On the one hand, a reference to technological evolution presents different models, from the Minitel to the laptop, in scenes reminiscent of the devices of current teleworking. On the other, an exhibition of iconic chairs reminds the public how familiar and representative they are of eras. We find the Chair 14 by Michael Thonet, the Superleggera by Gio Ponti, the Plastic DAW armchair by Eames, the stackable chair by Jasper Morrison …
The last room deals with experiments carried out with students from ESADSE and isdaT.

Nathalie Degardin

Anonymous, Moulinette vegetable mill, 1935, aluminum and lacquered wood, Moulinex editor, Courbevoie (France), MAMC + collection
Anonymous, ATOMIC coffee machine, 1954, metal, plastic, publisher Novate, Milan (Italy), MAMC + collection
Anonymous, Coffee grinder, circa 1950, metal and phenol formaldehyde (PF) resin, publisher Alexanderwerk, Remscheid (Germany), MAMC + collection
Jean Parthenay, Moka-SEB coffee maker, circa 1960, stainless steel and plastic, publisher Groupe SEB, Ecully (France), MAMC + collection
Richard Sapper, MAGNUM 9090 coffee maker, 1970 – 1979, stainless steel, editor Alessi, Crusinallo (Italy), MAMC + collection

© Aurélien Mole / MAMC+

Views of the Deja-Vu exhibition. Design in our daily life at the Saint-Étienne Métropole Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, until August 22, 2021.

“Already seen ! design in our daily life ”
until August 22
Saint-Étienne Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art