Author of Pierre Paulin, published by Assouline.
Pierre Paulin by Elisabeth Vedrenne -
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Interview with Elizabeth Vedrenne
Author of Pierre Paulin, published by Assouline
Renowned art critic and design historian Elisabethe Vedrenne, is not only a long-time friend to Pierre Paulin but also one of the foremost authorities on his work. She is a regular contributor to Connaissance des Arts, Intramuros and Maison française, and has just finished a book on the life and work of Charlotte Perriand, which, after Le Corbusier and Pierre Paulin, is her third title from Assouline's "Memoire du Style" collection.
When did you first encounter the work of Pierre Paulin and what was your reaction to his work?
I feel like I've always known Pierre Paulin's work. I was a young woman in 1968 and he was part of my universe. Plus my parent's had friends that admired a lot (I found them very "modern") who owned several of his chairs. Like sculptures, I was struck by the simplicity of his forms, and his colors intrigued me in the same way that I loved little dresses by Cardin and Corrèges or mobiles by Calder.
What draws you most to his designs?
Their fluidity, as much as in their lines as in the flexibility of the jersey fabrics that dress them.
How has he most influenced contemporary design?
Paulin has only influenced unimaginative contemporary designers who adhere to industry trends. After pillaging the 40s, we passed to the 50s. Now it's the 60s and 70s and not just in design! Regardless of the era, the mark of a good designer is one that always reinvents and adds something original.
In your text you explain that the 60s culture of relaxation lead to the creation of round and comfortable organic forms. Do you think that the current obsession with well-being will further increase interest in organic forms and the work of Paulin?
The appearance of organic forms in the 60s was not only born from a culture of well-being. One must not forget that the style appeared after the war and after many years of privation and was followed by a modernism that was as austere as it was beautiful. It was the younger generation that sought out the bright colors and shapely forms. Following the reign of minimalism and rigidity, organic designs are once again in style. But what we're experiencing now is a search for simplicity in response to life's increasing complexities. All of the styles thus coexist; there is something for every taste and every occasion.
What do you believe has been his greatest contribution to design?
It is hard to say because he is still alive. History will determine his place.
What do you look forward to most in his future projects?
I hope to see new and appropriate lines with suitable materials; and above all, that he doesn't try to redo Paulin circa the 60s-70s. I don't think that there is any danger of that, however, it's more the manufacturers that wish he'd continue to create the same in the same style.
What was it like working with him on this book?
We saw each other a lot and spoke a lot, but not always about design! I had to cajole him a bit.
What are you currently working on?
I just finished a book about Charlotte Perriand for Assouline Editions, and I'm preparing another one about Brazilian architects and designers that should occupy me for at least two years. I'm still working on my novel that takes place in Rome between the 50s-60s....and I've been traveling more and more because the older the get, the more curious I become.