- Ruhlmann: Genius of Art DecoOur PickBy Emmanuel Breon and Rosalind Pepall
- RuhlmannOur PickBy Florence Camard
- Art Deco Furniture: the French DesignersBy Alastair Duncan
- Art Deco Interiors: Decoration and Design Classics of the 1920s and 1930sBy Patricia Bayer
- The Decorative Arts in France: 1900 - 1942By Yvonne Brunhammer
- French Art DecoBy Jared Goss
- Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann: The Designer's ArchivesBy Emmanuel Breon
- Moderne: Fashioning the French InteriorBy Sarah Schleuning
Important Art by Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann
This early example of Ruhlmann's work already forebodes signature hallmarks, which would inform his Art Deco pieces of the 1920s that made him famous. The chair features four golden ball feet and a high back with oreille cassée, or, "broken ears," made to envelop the sitter in privacy. A matching gold-colored cushion folds over the top. A pattern of floral-shaped swirls covers the exterior of the chair, outlined in bright, light green trim. It was debuted at the 1913 Salon d'Automne at the Grand Palais in Paris.
This piece is indicative of Ruhlmann's style before World War I, when he was more inspired by the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements. For example, the print on the material is much busier than this later, sleeker fabric works. However, his use of expensive materials is already apparent. This piece contains the characteristics of the style philosophy that Ruhlmann maintained throughout his life: to provide luxury combined with comfort.
This monolithic console table looks heavy and sturdy yet seems to balance perfectly on four stiletto legs. Designed to be positioned against a wall, the console is beautiful yet understated and able to provide a backdrop to other stand out pieces of furniture in a room. The piece is intelligently functional: access to the console's cupboards is almost undetectable due to Ruhlmann's use of minimal keyholes.
The sleek design is enhanced by the expensive use of materials, namely Macassar ebony, an inlaid ivory chariot motif, and marble top. Macassar ebony was one of Ruhlmann's favorite materials due to its inherently striking and unique visual appeal. However, in this instance the designer used the nature of the wood subtly enough not to detract from the form of the cabinet.
This unique piece signifies the beginnings of Ruhlmann's experimentation with unusual materials and his move away from the styles other designers were producing in Paris at this time. He was starting to set himself apart from his Art Nouveau contemporaries with more simplified forms, which didn't imitate nature, but rather accentuated the intrinsic beauty of the materials themselves.
This compact bureau combines Ruhlmann's signature ethos of marrying beauty and functionality in design. A fold-down front reveals the practical and organized interior, with shelves and compartments for the owner's paperwork and documents. This pragmatism is merged with opulence: the interior is lined in cherry-red leather and features delicate ivory handles hung elegantly with tactile silk tassels. The fold-down front also doubles up as a writing surface, before neatly closing to hide its function. A larger drawer underneath the fold-down front provides more storage space. Completing the piece are four slender tapered legs - another hallmark of Ruhlmann's work.
The desk's title alone demonstrates the influence of other cultures on Ruhlmann's increasingly luxurious designs. Translated as the "Tibetan" desk, it reflects the trend of foreign inspiration that was celebrated by the burgeoning Art Deco movement, in both its decorative trimmings and in its use of materials. For example, the tropical Macassar ebony wood, sourced from Cuba, was selected for its aesthetic effect as well as its practicality. This exploration of the exotic could be seen as a turning away from traditional French modes of design, and the popular Art Nouveau style, which sought inspiration from nature. As well as looking further afield in terms of materials, this bureau was a rethinking of classical design motifs seen in eighteenth-century furniture design, such as the delicate cabinets of the era of Louis XV. This combination of influences, which had never before been seen together, carved out Ruhlmann's distinctive reputation in the furniture market of France during the early 1920s.
Influences and Connections
- Alfred Porteneuve
- Pierre Patout
- Jean Dupas
- Edgar Brandt
- Claudius Linossier
- Rene Lalique
- André Groult
- Art Deco
- Style Moderne