Only close to the end of his life did Jean Prouvé live continuously in the summer house that he built for his family in the outskirts of Nancy. Even during construction, he spent all week in Paris, where he was working for the firm Aluminium Français, appearing in Nancy only at the weekend. The importance of this building stems from the fact that construction work began in 1954, immediately after Prouvé gave up management of the Maxéville factory. Not so much because of the legend that was later created around this incident, a legend nourished by Prouvé himself in which he was alleged to have used materials “stolen” from the factory, but because in leaving Maxéville he had to do without the building system initially planned for the project and adopt a more artisanal one.
Born in Paris, he began his career in 1916 when he was hired as artistic blacksmith at the École de Nancy, a bulwark of Art Nouveau headed by his father. In 1931 he set up his own firm, Les Ateliers Jean Prouvé, which sixteen years later would move to Maxéville, increasing the production of dismountable houses, prefabricated elements, and furniture pieces. Despite its success, serious financial problems made Prouvé sign an agreement that granted the company Studal exclusive rights to the sale of its products. But continued discrepancies with the firm’s largest stockholder led him to resign as director of the workshops and then resign altogether in the spring of 1952... [+]