Authors
07.01.19

Prouvé / Hergé?

One wonders how a lounge chair designed by Jean Prouvé ended up in a vacation hotel in Vargèse. Let me remind you that Vergèse is a small mountain village of Haute-Savoie imagined by Hergé that appears in the first vignettes of Tintin au Tibet, the cartoon published in the Journal de Tintin in 1958 and in the form of an album in 1960*. Hergé initiates the vibrant adventure that will lead to the cave of the Yeti with a placid alpine holiday of Tintin, Milú, Haddock and Tornasol. Let's sit down in a room of the Hôtel des Sommets to enjoy that sunset of lazyness in which time is delayed between cigar smoke and aroma of coffee with milk, board games, puzzles, readings and trivial writing of postcards ... And suddenly, the calm is spoiled by the scream with which Tintin awakens from his visionary dream and frightens the crowd.

 

andreu_world_chairpedia_prouve 

Well, there, in that cartoon room, we have up to seven copies of the aforementioned lounge chair. Neither Tornasol, who reads oblivious to the hubbub, nor the rest of guests probably know that it is a design by Jean Prouvé and dating from 1942-44, although it will be marketed only after the fifties. Neither should they know the name of the seat, Kangourou, nor that it precedes another similar and more celebrated model - the FV 22 - from which it will take the name**. The development of those prototypes coincides with the golden years of Maxeville (1947-1952), the workshop from which Prouvé conceives a complete renovation of domestic furnishings. It can be assumed that the chair drew Hergé's attention, either because he saw it directly or because he had news of it through a photograph, perhaps a prospectus or a magazine. Curious and detailed, Hergé and his assistants scanned the surroundings in search of props to furnish their hypnotizing vignettes. His documentary passion has been very celebrated. Here we are before a scene of brilliance of the artist. It is tempting to assume that the spirit of industrial craftsman who imbued the comic artist connected with that of the workshop engineer that was Prouvé. One ran for light and the other for solid. One traced and the other built. But there is something generational in their ingenuity and something personal in their aesthetic language that would lead them to furnish this page together.

* Tintinologists always brag about this stupid knowledge.
* Other useless scholarly data that we students of design hoard .... But above the name of the seat goes this conjecture: the second model of the lounge chair did without the metallic back legs and was supported on the wooden sides that extended something beyond of the back. The seat then suggested the shape of a kangaroo: it rested its powerful back wooden haunches, while its small metal legs protruded from the front. A sort of marsupial that welcomed comfortably in its lap of padded cushions; whether they were subjects of flesh and blood or fictional beings.

 
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