Tribute to Andrée Putman

On 19 January, the world of design and architecture lost one of its most emblematic figures: Andrée Putman, French designer and architect, famous for the simple and elegant style of her creations.

Andrée Putman
Portrait of Andrée Putman

1. The family and youth of Andrée Putman

Andrée-Aynard Christine was born in Paris in 1925 in a middle class family of Lyon. Andrée’s grandmother was a descendant of the brothers Montgolfier, inventors of the hot air balloon (in the same region in which nowadays the Novoceram plant is located) and her grandfather had founded the Aynard Maison & fils bank. Andrée used to spend her summer holidays in the Cistercian Abbey of Fontenay, that had once served as a laboratory for the Montgolfier brothers: the geometry of space, the perspective, the absence of color and the plays of light marked her way of seeing reality.

2. The first work of Andrée Putman

Her austere and lonely father, educated at the École Normale, and her mother, a famous concert pianist, had in mind for her a future as a pianist too. Despite a knack for music, recognized by the Premier Prix of the Conservatoire d’Harmonie conferred by Francis Poulenc, Andrée did not perceive music as her vocation. She therefore decided to abandon music and she started working for the magazine Femina, and then collaborating with prestigious magazines like Elle and L’Oeil, where she could hone her perception of art. During this period she met illustrious personalities of the time like Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre and Juliette Greco. While remaining always discreet and confidential, she got close to these artists at that time misunderstood for their desires to veer off the beaten path.. a bit like her. Paying attention to what was around her and sensitive to the world of art in which she had been plunged since her childhood, she had been able to detect the novelty and potential of the creations of the time.

Her marriage in the late ’50s with the collector, publisher and art critic Jacques Putman allowed her to penetrate more and more in a world that could satisfy all her insatiable curiosity. In 1958 she became a fashion designer in the Prisunic chain of stores, aiming at providing all social classes an easy access to « good stuffs » dedicated to the household world. After that,  her work for the trend agency Mafia has been highly recognizable. Subsequently she decided to set up her own company, called Créateurs et Industriels, specialized in ready-to-wear cloathing. It was at that moment that she, thanks to her flair, promoted a group of young stylist destined to become fashion stars, including Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Issey Miyake, and Thierry Mugler. After a difficult period following the failure of her company and her divorce, Andrée Putman was able to reborn with the creation of the Ecart agency, where she was involved in reediting pieces of furniture of the ’30s, an era she particularly appreciated, especially thanks Eileen Gray‘s creations.

3. The revelation of Hôtel Morgans

She added another achievements to her list of accomplishements when she started working on interior design: her renovation of the Hôtel Morgans in New York in 1984, with its combination of black tiles and white tiles in a checkerboard pattern has become her signature (see the picture below), represented the starting point for many other achievements of interior architecture all over the world: the Sheraton at the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport, the Im Wasserturm in Cologne, the Spa Bayerischer Hof in Munich (see the picture below), the Lac in Kobe in Japan, but also boutiques for Balenciaga, Bally, or Lagerfeld, or offices, such as the Ministry of Culture of Jack Lang in 1984 (see the photo below).

Salle de bain Hotel Morgans Andree Putman

A picture of the reconstruction of the tiles for the bathroom at Morgans Hotel (New York – 1984) realized for the retrospective exhibition dedicated to her and organized by the Hôtel de Ville of Paris in 2010.

Ministere de la Culture Andrée Putman

Office furnishings designed by Andrée Putman for Jack Lang, the Minister of Culture of the time in 1985, preserved thereafter by Lionel Jospin and other 5 prime ministers to follow.

Blue Spa Pool Bayerischer

Spa Bayerischer Hof in Munich

In 1994 also Air France turned to her for the interior design of the supersonic Concorde in 1994 you can see in the picture below.

Concorde Air France Andrée Putman

Interior furnishings of the supersonic Concorde aircraft for Air France – 1994

4. The apartments of Andrée Putman

Andrée Putman is the forerunner of a new way of living spaces: she actually advocated the overthrow of walls to give each site the opportunity to express its own function. In 1978 she was living in a loft (not so common at that time), an old printing house, with a room open to the living room and she used to receive her friends in the kitchen for dinner. And if you can know more about people by visiting their apartments, as I do, I found these interesting pictures of her houses that I am going to show to you.

Appartement Andrée Putman

Andrée Putman’s house in Paris (left) and the one in San Sebastian (right)

5. Studio Putman

In 1997 she founded the  Studio Putman, now headed by her daughter Olivia. She built up strong partnerships with major brands such as Veuve Clicquot, Louis Vuitton, Guerlain and Christofle (see pictures below).

Christofle Andrée PutmanChristofle

Maison Guerlain

Boutique Guerlain Champs-Élysées, Paris 2005

She was responsible for the restructuring of Hôtel Pershing Hall in the 6th arrondissement of Paris.

Hotel Pershing Hall Paris Andrée Putman

Hotel Pershing Hall Paris Andrée Putman

Hôtel Pershing Hall, Paris – 2001

Studio Putman launched on markets pieces of furniture designed by the « grande dame of design » as you can see in the pictures below:

Creations Studio Putman

Croqueuse de Diamants chairs (left) and benches Eléphant (right) – Studio Putman

A great ambassador of the French style has died too soon, but her talent, her style and her creations will continue to shine in all their elegance and originality, as the small LEDs that cover the inside of this piano, affectionately called the Milky Way, which she designed for Pleyel … a wink to  her abandoned vocation as a pianist.

Piano Voie Lactée Andrée Putman

Andrée Putman and piano Voie Lactée by Pleyel, presented to the Designer’s Days 2008.

One comment :

  1. Félicitations L’activité ensemble.
    Il est impressionnant.
    J’ai été surpris de la manière la plus agréable quand j’ai appris que la conception Concorde intérieur a été faite par Mme Andrée Putman.

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