Ecart International is putting iconic French modern furniture design back into production

“Andree had an extraordinary eye that enabled her to zero in on quintessential pieces that were at once modern and minimalist and had yet been almost forgotten,” says Pascal Lapeyre, director of Ecart International since 2011.

“In effect, she constituted a catalogue raisonne of the history of today’s design aesthetic. The forms of these pieces are somehow eternal, appealing to people today as they did 100 years ago.”

A Jean-Michel Frank steamed oak sideboard. 

The Ecart team keeps the offer fresh – and the call to a new clientele vibrant – by exploring new, natural materials and of-the-moment colourways. Occasionally, they’ll unearth a never-before manufactured piece and decide to put that into production. Expect a trouser press designed by Eileen Gray to be brought to light early next year, an unseen desk and a few armchairs by Jean-Michel Frank, too.

“It doesn’t hurt that we appeal to many luxury brands that call upon Ecart to provide pieces for their boutiques,” Lapeyre shrugs. “Dior, for example, and Cartier; this presence ensures the pieces are always showcased in a contemporary and changing context.”

Ecart holds the rights to some Chareau furniture. But the IP for the vast majority of the catalogue – and most importantly, the lighting – is in the hands of Galerie MCDE. It was set up to commercialise the dramatically sculptural alabaster pieces in the late 1980s.

“Chareau was working at the height of the art deco era, that is, between the age of artisanal, craft production and that of mass industrial production,” explains Pierre-Emmanuel Risch, who directs the gallery today. “For that reason, his designs were never produced in big quantities. And yet, what’s amazing is that while the lighting pieces are clearly of their moment, they also could have been designed last year.”

I don’t know what was in the Parisian water in the 1920s and ’30s, but joyeux anniversaire, old friends.

The Ecart International and Galerie MCDE products are available exclusively from Criteria Collection, Melbourne.

The July issue of AFR Magazine is out on Friday, June 24 inside The Australian Financial Review. Follow AFR Mag on Twitter and Instagram.

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