Above: A pair of ‘Ambassador’ chairs made in France in 1955. Photo: Phillips
Of the designers that fall under the Modernist banner Jean Royère could easily be one of the hardest to categorize. His designs are drawn from pure imagination and exists only because the mad mind that conceived them willed them into form.
In the 1920’s Jean Royère was working in Paris in a comfortable position in the import-export trade. And while Royère could have forged a successful career in imports and exports he decided in 1931, at the age of 30, to quit and set up a new business as a designer. He began studying cabinetmaking in the workshops of the noted Faubourg Saint-Antoine in Paris and not long after, in 1934, he was commissioned to design the interiors of the Brasserie Carlton on the Champs Elysées, a job that lead to immediate success. After the Brasserie Carlton he received commissions for several apartments and homes in Paris and garnered a high end clientele who referred to him as ‘Jean Royère, décorateur a Paris’, and he was the decorator of Paris becoming a key figure in French Avant-garde by the 1950’s.
Success at home was met with success abroad and Royère counted among his patrons King Farouk of Egypt, King Hussein of Jordan, and the Shah of Iran, who were captivated not just by his creativity but by his elegance as well and entrusted him with the layout and furnishing of their palaces. So successful was he in the Middle East that he opened a studio there.
Royère pioneered an original style that combined bright colors, organic forms and unusual materials and applied them to a wide range of objects. Always seeking new challenges the one thing Royère wanted to do before he died was to live in the United State and he did, moving there in 1980, however he pass away in the US less than a year later. Some critics have called Royère’s work silly and cartoonish, and there certainly isn’t a middle ground when it comes to his designs. But one thing is certain, he did not work ‘in a style’, Royère was his own style.