Jean Prouve is widely acknowledged as one of the twentieth century's most important and influential designers whose wide-ranging oeuvre combined bold elegance with economy of means and strong social conscience. Working as a craftsman, designer, manufacturer, architect, teacher, and engineer, his career spanned more than sixty years. Prouvé has played a pivotal role in the development of cutting-edge technology and modular systems for mass production in the post-war modernist period.⠀
Prouvé trained as an artisan blacksmith and his intimate knowledge of metal remained the foundation of his work and career. Aware of the limitations of ornamental and wrought-iron work and keen to embrace the modern movement, he moved on to steel and aluminum, folding and arc-welding. In 1931 he established the Atelier Jean Prouvé, where he began to produce light-weight metal furniture of his own design, as well as collaborating with Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand. ⠀
The onset of WWII and the age of austerity that followed marked a period of enforced experiment for Prouvé. With his own design studio, he could combine research, prototype development and production. He set about fulfilling his ambitious plan to alter the building process from a craft-based practice to that of a mechanised industry, producing not only houses, prefabricated huts, doors, windows, roof elements and façade panels but also a production line for furniture based on his own designs. It was in this creative environment that the prefabricated refugee houses of 1945 were developed, followed by the flat-packed, tropical houses for Nigeria and the Republic of Congo in 1949 and 1950.⠀
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