Pierre Paulin, born in 1927, had the privilege to be, during the sixties and the seventies, the unique representative of French design abroad. Paulin uses a smoothed, curved, colored design, which we often assimilate, erroneously to the pop movement of those years. Beyond the plastic forms, it is a work on structure: to make an armchair in a ‘tongue shape’ requires engineering and a rigorous technique. Despite the fact that abroad he is celebrated, exhibited, respected by editors, cultural agencies and the public, he remains unknown in his own country. After his scholarship at l’Ecole Camondo, he joins Pierre Guariche’s and Michel Mortier’s workshop.
He was very much influenced by Le Corbusier, by Charles Eames’ pragmatism, by Alvar Aalto’s serenity, and by the traditional Japanese architecture. While being interested by the Scandinavian design for its somewhat austere simplicity, its luminosity and its sense of functionalism, based on an obvious rationalism, he was constantly disgusted by the French fascination for the past, their proclivity to copy traditional furniture and their taste for decorum. He always linked rigour and the organic throughout his career while banishing exaltation and exaggeration. Curve the angles and smooth the lines was his motto. The forms of his furniture permit relaxation but never limpness.
The bodies are coiling up into giant beanbags, nests, shells or protective and voluptuous pods. Paulin’s work characteristics lead him to create stuffed armchairs with coloured stretch jersey upholstery. The upholstery is not here to hide the structure but a real exaltation for the generous forms of his furniture. Paulin success arrived in 1953, with his entry at le Salon des Arts Ménagers, where his era of lightness, simplicity and sensuality started. His taste for scenography and architecture enables him to work with the Salon de l’Automobile as well as hotels and exhibitions.
It is his modern approach - using radical and formal innovation- and functionalism that Paulin breaks with his peers and models. In 1967, he creates Christian Dior’s and Marc Bohan’s offices and in 1971, Pompidou’s apartments in l’Elysée, this insures an established recognition.
In 1970, he draws the Amphis Sofa made of three integrated undulating rolls, like a wave, for le Mobilier National. He will transform the squat armchair into comfortable mushroom seats.
In 1975, with his wife he starts his own agency named AD/SA so he can work with French industrial brands like Calor, Citroen, SNCF among others.
In 1984, he designs Mitterrand’s furniture as well as his office’s layout in l’Elysée.