Hector Guimard
Bench for a Smoking Parlour

Bench for a Smoking Parlour
Hector Guimard (1867-1942)
Bench for a Smoking Parlour
Jarrah, chased metal, modern upholstery
H. 260; W. 262; D. 66 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / K. Ignatiadis

Bench for a Smoking Parlour

The main claim of the Art Nouveau movement, of which Hector Guimard was one of the leaders in France, is the unity of architecture, furniture and decoration. Decorative objects or furniture must not be isolated in a room, but fully integrated into the style of the entire house. Guimard, famous for designing the entrances to the Paris metro, applied this principle to one of his major constructions, Castel Béranger in the 16th arrondissement in Paris, for which he designed all the furniture.

Another characteristic of Art Nouveau is the use of plant forms, illustrated here by the lively design of this asymmetrical bench, one leg of which seems to be a trunk sprouting supple branches that curve like vines.

This original, almost outlandish, piece of furniture, was designed to be placed in the corner of a room, as is shown by the small display case which seems to be suspended in the air beneath a roof-like shelf. The original embroidered upholstery of the bench had to be replaced.

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