Louis-Jean-Sylvestre Majorelle (1859-1926)

French decorator and furniture designer Louis-Jean-Sylvester Majorelle was one of the greatest designers of Art Nouveau furniture.

Louis Majorelle photo where he has a long, struffy beard and is wearing a black hat.
Photo of Majorelle

Image source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Majorelle#/media/File:Louis_Majorelle.png

About His Life

Majorelle was a decorator, cabinetmaker, and manufacturer. Further, he was born in Toul, in 1859, to a family of furniture designers and manufacturers. Louis, in 1877, enrolled in the Paris School of Fine Arts. Two years later, his father died, and he had to return to Nancy, where he headed the family furniture factories with his brother.

Statue of Louis Majorelle, Ecole de Nancy Museum, Nancy: The bust of Majorelle in a light stone outside.
Statue of Louis Majorelle at Ecole de Nancy Museum in Nancy

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/bc58fb89-7aea-445b-b59f-d32f01a40988 by dalbera

In 1894, Majorelle, inspired by naturalism and symbolism, created a completely new collection of furniture. His designs were notable for the use of inlay, and he was best known as a cabinetmaker. Further, he produced two main types of furniture: a collection of luxury furniture and a budget-friendly one. He launched the metal processing technology for the production of bronze. Additionally, itwas originally used to decorate furniture, and in 1896, in collaboration with Daum, lamps were launched. Then, he opened some retail stores, and, in 1901 he was appointed vice-president of the famous school of Nancy. After 1918, geometric shapes came to replace the floral ones, which symbolizes the arrival of the Art Deco style. Louis Majorelle died in 1926.

A mahogany bed, known as the Nénuphar bed for its water lily motifs, designed and manufactured by Louis Majorelle around 1902-3, on display at the Musée d'Orsay, Paris.
A mahogany bed (1902-3) designed and manufactured by Louis Majorelle

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/6208aff3-6055-4deb-8d20-4d337dc290f4 by dalbera

Furniture Production

The French designer inherited his father’s furniture workshop, which specialized in luxurious Neo-Classical and Neo-Rococo pieces. From the 1890s, under Emile Gallé’s influence, Majorelle created a modern Art Nouveau style with elegant proportions and refined marquetries. Moreover, he was a master in the design of furniture using carving, inlay, and ormolu, or other metal decorative elements. In addition, the curving themes were generally based on floral patterns. He finds nature a key inspiration as well.

Louis Majorelle at the musée d'Orsay: Piece of furniture made out of wood.
Louis Majorelle at the musée d’Orsay

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/36923fe1-2ebb-4103-b088-91c520c450a9 by dalbera

Bedroom furniture designed specifically for the Villa Majorelle.
Bedroom furniture designed specifically for the Villa Majorelle

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/d0aacfaa-c1c0-4de5-8a00-95f58db3a5da by dalbera

The work in Nancy is expansive in variety, originality, and beauty, although there is a tendency toward an excess of decorative richness. Majorelle’s style incorporated a modified flowing line with polished woods, highlighted by Art Nouveau bronze mounts in the 18th-century tradition. Further, his catalogs between 1900 and 1914 show a tremendous output, including suites of furniture for individual rooms, furniture using botanical motifs or other stylistic themes, and specific pieces whose prices ranged according to custom-ordered materials.

Aux Nénuphars armchair at the Musée de l'École de Nancy: A photo of a brown chair with a curved back.
Aux Nénuphars armchair at the Musée de l’École in Nancy

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Majorelle#/media/File:Fauteuil_n%C3%A9nuphar.jpg

Info sources:

A History of Interior Design



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