Tribute to Andrée Putman

Design and Trends, Architecture
  • 15 February 2013

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.
1. The family and youth of Andrée Putman
2. The first work of Andrée Putman
3. The revelation of Hôtel Morgans
4. The apartments of Andrée Putman
5. Studio 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).

andree putman morgans hotel © Studio Putman – Andrée Putman, Bathroom, Morgans Hotel, New York, 1984

andree putman spa bayerischerhof munich © Studio Putman – Andrée Putman, Spa Bayerischerhof, Munich, 2005

In 1994 also Air France turned to her for the interior design of the supersonic Concorde in 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.

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

andree putman guerlain boutique © Studio Putman – Andrée Putman, Guerlain Boutique, Paris

Studio Putman launched on markets pieces of furniture designed by the “grande dame of design”.

andree putman elephant bench © Studio Putman – Andrée Putman, Elephant Bench

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.

andree putman piano voie lactee © Studio Putman – Andrée Putman, Piano Voie Lactée for Pleyel

Comments (1)
  • Mihai ANDREI
    2014-03-14 18:45:52

    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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