French Architect and Designer, Robert Mallet-Stevens was one of the founders of the Union des Artistes modernes (UAM), a movement firmly opposed to the Art Nouveau.
About His Life
Robert Mallet-Stevens was born in Paris on March 24, 1886. He is Maurice Mallet’s son, an expert in paintings and art dealer, and Juliette Stevens, nephew of Alfred Stevens Belgian portraitist. He grew up in a bourgeois family who channeled him through a rational and precise mind. He began studying architecture at the École Spéciale d’Architecture from 1904 to 1909.
Info source: http://www.mallet-stevens.paris/bio/
Influenced by the architecture of Josef Hoffman and the Viennese Secession, he was one the most influential character in the development of Art Deco. He found the Union des Artistes modernes (UAM) in 1929, together with Le Corbusier, Francis Jourdain, René Herbst and others. This organization was characterized by its strong opposition to the Art Nouveau, while it supported industrialization, modernism and the democratization of art. Despite his importance in the construction of modern architectural thought, his work gradually fell into oblivion after his death in 1945 due to his request to destroy all his archives.
What Were his Major Works?
Among his major architectures there are:
- Villa Cavrois (1929-1932)
Villa Cavrois is one of its best creations which was designed for Paul Cavrois, a French textile industrialist who owns modern factories for spinning, weaving and dyeing cotton and wool. Mallet-Stevens was free to manage the entire work, down to the least details. Therefore, he also designed the park and the furniture. The villa was inaugurated on 5 July 1932, for the wedding of Geneviève Cavrois, Paul Cavrois’ daughter. The design of the building had to follow this guideline: “air, light, work, sports, hygiene, comfort and efficiency”.
Info source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villa_Cavrois
- Villa Noailles (1923–1928)
Villa Noailles is an early modernist house, built for art patrons Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles who wanted to build a summer villa in the hills above the city of Hyères. Mallet-Stevens designed also the decoration included furnitures bought or made specially for the villa. It is composed by fifty rooms and it is surrounded by a large garden.
Info source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villa_Noailles
- Villa Paul Poiret (1921–1923)
This was one of the first project originally designed by architect Robert Mallet-Stevens. It is a Cubism-inspired and later Art Deco private house, commissioned by fashion designer Paul Poiret in 1921. This building was completed in 1925 but soon was sold to other people who changed the original design to the contemporary Art Deco style, converting windows to portholes, and rounding-off terrace corners.
Info source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villa_Paul_Poiret
How can we Identify Mallet-Stevens Style?
As said before, he was one of the founders of the Union des Artistes modernes (UAM), a movement that was in opposition to the Art Nouveau decorativism. For that reason, we can recognize his work by the fact that he proposed a purity of lines, functional forms and strong tones that merged into the modern international movement. Buildings, factory, shops, villas, public structures: the architect does many exercises that make him aware of the evident need to harmonize the content and the container. Mallet-Stevens, his name and his work remained essentially tied to bourgeois domestic architecture.