Compas Direction Desk
The slender, elegantly splayed metal legs of the Compas Direction desk by Jean Prouvé call to mind the hinged arms of a compass – ‘le compas’ in French. Their design is based on engineering principles that typify the structural approach of the French designer and engineer. Paired with the oiled solid wood table tops, they form a richly contrasting mix of materials in the home office.
Jean Prouvé completed his training as a metal artisan before opening his own workshop in Nancy in 1924. In the following years he created numerous furniture designs, and in 1947 Prouvé established his own factory. Due to disagreements with the majority shareholders, he left the company in 1953. During the ensuing decades, Prouvé served as a consulting engineer on a number of important architectural projects in Paris.
He left his mark on architectural history again in 1971, when he played a major role in selecting the design of Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers for the Centre Pompidou as chairman of the competition jury. Prouvé's work encompasses a wide range of objects, from a letter opener to door and window fittings, from lighting and furniture to façade elements and prefabricated houses, from modular building systems to large exhibition structures – essentially, almost anything that is suited to industrial production methods.
In close cooperation with the Prouvé family, Vitra began in 2002 to issue re-editions of designs by this great French constructeur.