Any design enthusiasts who were fortunate enough to be in Weil am Rhein, Germany, during Art Basel this summer may have seen Prouvé Raw, a collaborative reinterpretation of Jean Prouvé furniture pieces by international denim label G-Star and Swiss manufacturer Vitra. The 17-piece collection was on display at Zaha Hadid's Fire Station, presented on angular planes rather than a mundane flat surface like the floor. Today, nine of the pieces go on presale to the public for the first time, exciting news for anyone whose budget can accommodate a $3,000 chair, or who would just like the opportunity to reach out and touch one.
A collaboration among a denim label, a contemporary design company, and one of the most lauded French industrial designers of the 20th century may not have been a readily apparent choice, but it's the latest in Raw Crossovers, a series of outlandishly unanticipated collaborations, which in the past have produced a G-Star SUV, flask, and bicycle with Land Rover, Hennessy, and Cannondale, respectively.
"We're interested in these unexpected combinations," G-Star global brand director Shubhankar Ray told ARTINFO. "What we're making is design interventions.We believe in modern culture being about hyphenation, and this leads to updated products."
This time around, the results are stunning: the familiarity of Prouvé's well-loved designs with an updated sophistication. After years of collecting Prouvé furniture in its offices and showrooms, G-Star originally approached Vitra just to reinterpret Prouvé's iconic Chaise Direction, before deciding to do an entire line. "It was a natural hookup,” Ray told us. "Through that collaboration we realized there was more commonality between us and Vitra. We're maniacs, and we thought they were maniacs with regard to their commitment to product quality, use of technology, and innovation."
Catherine Prouvé provided access to her father's drawings at the Pompidou and allowed G-Star and Vitra to fill in sketches left incomplete. The two approached this reinterpretation aiming to preserve the original form and functionality of each piece, paying close attention to Prouvé's original aesthetic and democratic ethos, adding certain modern flourishes that acknowledge the needs of the present day, while incorporating G-Star’s industrial look and feel. The ergonomics were shifted to accommodate a taller audience: seatbacks tilted at greater angles, with thicker seats, different feet, and everything just a bit longer. Where Prouvé had used earthtones and cloth, G-Star used stark neutrals, bright reds, and leather.What you didn't see in this collection, however, was denim: "It was too obvious,"Ray said.
Design wonks chomping at the bit to get their hands on these pieces can start today. The updated designs make their U.S. debut in Vitra’s Manhattan location, timed for New York Fashion Week. The collection officially goes on sale in Vitra locations worldwide in October, available for the next year.