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Jean Prouvé was born in 1901 in Nancy, France, where he died in 1984. He is considered one of the most important and influential designers of the 20th century, whose extensive body of work combined bold elegance with economical means and a keen social conscience. As a craftsman, designer, manufacturer, architect, teacher, and engineer, he was active for over sixty years. During this time he produced prefabricated houses, building elements and facades, as well as furniture for the home, office, and school. Prouvé played a central role in the development of cutting-edge technology and modular systems for mass production in post-war modernism.

Prouvé trained as an artistic blacksmith, and his profound knowledge of metal remained the foundation of his work and career. He was aware of the limitations of ornament and wrought iron and wanted to join the modern movement, which is why he worked with steel and aluminum, folding and arc welding. In 1931, he founded the Atelier Jean Prouvé, where he began producing light metal furniture based on his own designs and collaborating with some of the most famous designers of his time, including Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand. Furniture production became a core part of his business.

He favored the public sector in the growing fields of health, education, and administration, which met a social ideal but also offered economies of scale. By 1936, he had created a catalog of standard models for hospitals, schools, and offices. The potential for mass production inspired Prouvé to develop and patent industrial products made of folded sheet metal for building construction. These included movable partitions, metal doors, and elevator cages.

The outbreak of World War II and the subsequent period of austerity meant a time of forced experimentation for Prouvé. In 1947, he moved his business to Maxéville, near Nancy. In his own design studio, he was able to combine research, prototype development, and production. In Maxéville, he realized his ambitious plan to transform the construction process from an artisanal practice to a mechanized industry, producing not only houses, prefabricated huts, doors, windows, roof elements, and facade elements but also a production line for furniture based on his own designs. It was in this creative environment that the prefabricated refugee houses were created in 1945 and the tropical houses in apartment construction for Niger and the Republic of Congo in 1949 and 1950.

His work is in private and public collections around the world, including the Center Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Self-taught in the field of engineering and architecture, he boasts in his autobiography the words "I am only a worker." The reputation of Jean Prouvé has grown over time. Decades after his disappearance, his objects are sought and sold in large quantities at auctions.