- Art & Design
Anyone who says pierre chapo automatically thinks of unique wooden creations with a soul. A soul that the french furniture designer himself let seep into his work with precision through his pure craft. To this day, he inspires every artistic mind with his fine designs.
On a balmy summer evening in 1927, it was written in the stars: Pierre Chapo’s psy - che would become crea - tive. After all, the boy was the grandson of a dyer and a felt weaver. Moreover, he grew up in the artistic centre of the world, namely Paris. There, in 1947, he met a ship carpenter from Vierzon named Perrot. The encounter would later largely shape his life’s course, because before, Chapo was primarily fascinated by painting. These interesting conversations changed his view of art as the carpenter in - troduced him to wood and woodworking. This led Chapo to study architecture at Par - is’ École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts. His period of study was one he would never forget: for the first time, he came into contact with classical, Greek, and Roman art. He was also immensely inspired by the masters of the Bauhaus, Frank Lloyd Wright, Buckminster Fuller, Le Corbusier, and Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe. Because of this fantastic time of discovery, he felt that inspiration was wait - ing for him elsewhere; therefore, he decided to travel the world so that he could let differ - ent influences come to him. His trip to the United States was the last before he realised that his future lay in wood. He soon went to work in his father-in-law’s woodworking shop located in Clamart, where he made his first creations out of solid oak, ash, and elm.
Back then, Chapo made a crucial contribution to the design sector
Although his stools are among the most well-known creations, there are also less - er-known pieces that deserve all the at - tention. That is to say, the oeuvre equally includes sideboards, sofas, tables, garden stools, and more. Many design enthusiasts today look specifically for vintage, but thunique story behind this family shows that things can also be different. In fact, son and grandson see to it that new production is done according to the original designs. The prices of these new pieces are considerably lower than finds from decades ago, while the craft behind them continues to improve. Those who really want to go for a patina will find that with a contemporary piece, you can create it yourself even after just a few years of use. Besides, we notice from the designer’s renewed popularity that the best things always come back. After the initial success of his work dwindled towards the end of the 1980s, that flame has now flared up again in full force. Today, there is a growing appreciation for objects that manage to combine tradition with modernity. Back then, Chapo made a crucial contribution to the design sector; today, his family and a team of talented craftspeople prove that the contemporary climate also has room for his vision. An added advantage is that repairs are also carried out, meaning that pieces with certain defects can be re-optimised. So those who already own furniture by this name can have it repaired by the next generations. Furthermore, of course, everyone has an ear for an inspiring life story like that of this French designer. Having travelled extensively and having lost his heart to a specific technique, he lived a life filled with what he loved most and passed on the same passion overtly to those who would later follow in his footsteps. The sense of detail, infatuation with wood and intuition for shapes undoubtedly runs in the family. Both the public and his progeny ensure that Pierre Chapo’s work – and so he himself – lives on, and that, to us, is the finest evidence of a true genius.
Header image: courtesy of Showroom_144, photography by Nanna Dis
Image 2: Bookcase B10, available at www.17-21.com
Image 3: courtesy of Magen H Gallery
Image 4: sideboard R28, courtesy of Magen H Gallery
Image 5: Goldwood by Boris, sofa 32
Image 6: Goldwood by Boris, bookcase GO French Elm
Image 7: courtesy of Vanlandschoote, photography by Jana Pollet
Image 8: Pierre Chapo (1927-1987), Model B18B, bibliothèque tournante © PIASA auction & Xavier Defaix
Image 9: Stool S31 © Kabinet Hubert
Text by Emma Verstappen