Mentor and Muse
Edited by Karen D. Singh -- Interior Design, 3/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
Paul Mathieu and Andrée Putman are both self described vagabonds, a term that characterizes their design aesthetic as well as their travel schedule. They also believe that this constant mental and physical motion is what preserves the freshness of the furniture that each sells in the U.S. through Ralph Pucci International and/or Odegard. "If I'm looking at art, for example, then I'll mix everything I've absorbed with things I know from the distant past, and together they create something new," Putman says. "I'm not always conscious of it. It just comes out."
Mathieu nods in agreement. A constant change of environments has required both designers to abandon hesitation and embrace spontaneity. According to both, the freedom to express ideas keeps the good designs flowing. It similarly allows for a certain fearlessness about, well, bad ideas.
The pair might never have met, in fact, if Putman hadn't spontaneously picked up the phone and called Mathieu to say that she'd just seen photographs of a country house he'd renovated, and she loved its freshness and poetry. As she's based in Paris and he's in Provence and New York, the two became casual friends, each inspiring the other. In the early '90's, Mathieu began designing pieces for Putman's Ecart line.
Even the furniture that they design separately shares certain characteristics. Enigmatic letters are stamped into the aluminum surface of Mathieu's industrial-looking Ice side chair, which Putman calls lyrical. For his Sister Margaret sofa, he added a leather detail to the backrest, so sitters who place their hands there experience a tactile transition. Putman's celebrated Crescent Moon sofa curves to position the sitter at an intimate angle for conversation with a companion. Her Over Easy oak cocktail table conceals a tray that the owner has to know about to remove; a pop-up mirror hides in the top of her Double Play dressing table. Such attention to detail and scale is very French, Putman and Mathieu agree.
The closeness of their ties takes furniture form in Mathieu's 2006 collection Aria. In the curves of these elegant bronze pieces, he abstractly references a photograph of Putman in profile.
Ralph Pucci International, 44 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011; 212-633-0452; ralphpucci.net. circle 357
Odegard, 200 Lexington Avenue, Suite 1206, New York, NY 10016; 800-670-8836; odegardinc.com. circle 358