You may not know his name, but you've probably seen one of Jean Prouvé's designs. The industrial-modern pieces created by this French designer and architect — like his Standard chair, pictured above, and his Potence lamp — are suddenly cropping up in stylish homes everywhere.
Born in Nancy, France in 1901, Prouvé apprenticed in two different metalworking shops before opening his own shop in 1924. Although he never had any formal design training, he was heavily influenced by the artists of the collective that his father, Art Noveau painter and sculptor Victor Prouvé, belonged to.
Throughout his career, Prouvé experimented with applying industrial techniques to the design of furniture and architecture. He worked extensively with folded sheet metal, which gives his designs a distinctive look — an industrial feel tempered by Prouvé's trademark minimalism.
This might help explain why Prouvé's designs seem so fresh — while they were designed in the same era, they're not quite midcentury modern. Although Prouvé experimented a bit with curvy furniture, most of his designs, like the Standard chair, have a certain refreshing starkness to them.