Francis Jourdain was born in France in 1876 to the architect, and founder of the Salon d'Automne, Frantz Jourdain. His earliest convictions were influenced by the company his parents kept, which included Émile Zola, Alphonse Daudet, and Alexandre Charpentier. Jourdain found these friends progenitors of a stuffy and ultimately false, liberality, and set about to supplant it with his own.
Jourdain started as a painter. He became an early proponent of the Art Nouveau style, exhibiting a celebrated panel at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris, and serving as a decorator at the Villa Majorelle in Nancy.
In 1911, under the influence of Adolf Loos, Jourdain started to design furniture in a new, cleaner aesthetic. His work, like that of the other Coloristes (a group with which he’s associated) was simple, plain, and lacking in ornament, and shows—like much of the best design of the period—an equal focus on craftsmanship and industrial developments in construction.
In 1912 he opened a furniture factory, Les Ateliers Modernes, where he designed simple, functional work, meant to be accessible to, and to meet the needs of, the working classes. The work featured interchangeable pieces, and could even be ordered by catalog.
He advertised in L’Humanité, a socialist newspaper, and exhibited at the Salon d'Automne and the Societé des Artistes Décorateurs throughout the 1920s, during which period he collaborated often with the groundbreaking architect Robert Mallet-Stevens.
Jourdain began also publishing prolifically on the subjects of class and the arts. His main target was luxury, at the time central to French design despite the severe and widespread depression following World War I. In 1920 he co-published a journal with Le Corbusier called L’esprit Nouveau, largely given over to new ideas favouring industrial production over individual design.
His work was consistent with his published beliefs. At the 1925 International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts Jourdain's display was remarkable for its smooth, unadorned wood paneling, which covered both walls and ceiling, and was one of the only displays not focused on luxury.
From the 1930s onward Jourdain became increasingly interested in politics, and not merely for its influence on aesthetics and design. He joined the French Communist Party, and designed a groundbreaking interior for the Intellectual Worker that was exhibited to great acclaim at the 1937 Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne in Paris.
In 1939 he was made Secretary General of the World Committee against War and Fascism, which included, among others, Henri Barbusse, Romain Rolland, Paul Langevin, A.A. MacLeod, Sherwood Anderson, and John dos Passos.
Jourdain continued to write after the Second World War, and in the late 1950s acted as President of the Secours Populaire Français. He died in Paris in 1958 at the age of 82.
Francis Jourdain 1876-1958
Photographer, Martyn Thompson, began his career making clothes before deciding to document them instead. He worked as a fashion photographer in Paris prior to moving to London where his scope broadened into the world of interiors and still life.
Over the past 30 years Thompson has collaborated with several designers – most notably a long relationship with Ilse Crawford. He has worked to create the visual messaging of leading global brands such as Hermés and Ralph Lauren while also authoring two books, “Interiors” and “Working Space: An insight into the Creative Heart”.
A resident of New York now for many years, Thompson founded Martyn Thompson Studio, a multidisciplinary out t that has branched out from Thompson’s distinctive photography practice into a number of creative expressions. An aesthetic, anchored in the touch of the hand, stems from Thompson’s love of craft, and runs through his studio’s work, de ned by a tactile and painterly language that is a visual push me, pull me between nostalgia and now.
The studio has evolved to include textile and wallpaper design, homewares, limited edition art, as well as art direction for editorial projects. In addition Martyn Thompson Studio works with a number of brands as a creative consultant giving direction on the areas that help shape and de ne a visual identity: colour, mood and tactility.
Armand-Albert Rateau 1882-1938
Armand Albert Rateau (1882-1938) was a French designer, furniture maker, architect, and interior decorator. Trained at the École Boulle in Paris, he became the artistic director of the design firm Alavoine and Company at only twenty-three years of age. In 1919, he opened his own firm that catered to a small group of wealthy clients. His name and work became well known for his contributions to the Art Deco style gaining popularity at the time. At the height of his career in the 1920s and 30s, Rateau took commissions for French government offices, foreign embassies, and businesses like Tiffany & Co. and fashion designer Jeanne Lanvin. His work on private estates often entailed restoring or recreating period details, like the late-medieval wood carving and pavements at Leeds Castle in Kent.
In 1926, the Blisses’ architect Lawrence Grant White hired Rateau to reproduce a French Renaissance ceiling and parquet floor for the Dumbarton Oaks Music Room. Ever the exacting artist, Rateau traveled to Dumbarton Oaks in person to see his creations installed in the Music Room in 1928. Upon seeing the design for the first time, Lawrence Grant White wrote to Robert Bliss, saying that Rateau's reproduction captured the color and style so perfectly that it appeared to be a genuine antique.
Mildred Bliss clearly shared White’s enthusiasm for Rateau’s style. A month after he installed the ceiling and floor, Rateau returned to Dumbarton Oaks to meet with Mildred Bliss, Lawrence White, and Beatrix Farrand to discuss further design work. He advised on Music Room décor and furnishings, and Mildred Bliss hired him to renovate the Oval Room and Living Room. In 1929, she requested his input on garden ornaments, and he submitted around 30 sketches of finials, vases and baskets, benches, gates, and sculptures. Many elements of Rateau’s sketches are echoed in garden ornaments designed by Beatrix Farrand that are present in the gardens today.
Napoleone Martinuzzi 1892-1977
Born in Murano in 1892, he died in Venice in 1977. In 1910 he studied sculpture subject in Rome together with Angelo Zanelli. He got back to Murano, and in 1925 he joined the Venini & C. as partner and art director.
His creativity gave him a position in the front line of rebirth of the art of glassmaking. In 1928 he made experiments with the pulegoso glass. In 1932 together with Francesco Zecchin he established the Zecchin - Martinuzzi firm, participating in the 1933 Triennale, where he exhibited a series of zoomorphous sculptures.
After a long break, in 1947 he worked as art director at Seguso Arte Vetro. From 1953 to 1958 he designed chandeliers and vitreous tiles for Cenedese . During the 60's some of his works has been executed by Antonio Barbini.