Interview with Collector Patrick Seguin
by Gloria Maria Cappelletti and Fabrizio Meris
The Collector Tribune has the pleasure of bringing you an exclusive interview with Patrick Seguin, who shares with us his point of view on design as a form of art. We met Mr. Seguin in Milan during the press conference for the upcoming exhibition “A Passion for Jean Prouvé,” to be held at Pinacoteca Giovanni and Marella Agnelli in Turin next April.
Patrick and Laurence Seguin discovered the work of Jean Prouvé, in the late 1980s, through his furniture designs and are now presenting a number of works from their private collection for the first time.
The Collector Tribune: Do you think there is a fundamental difference in the approach to the work of a designer compared to that of an artist?
Patrick Seguin: Their approach is relatively different. The designer has to imagine his project taking into account essential parameters such as comfort, ergonomics, solidity and the use but also manufacturing conditions and production costs. His interlocutors are industrials, producers whose main concerns are product reliability and innovation, beauty and attractiveness. The artist, on the other hand, is not generally confronted with these issues. He has a larger margin of freedom even though his works will also meet the art market realities in the end. Nevertheless, when a designer is invited by a design gallery to produce objects in limited editions, his thought process is close to the artist’s: imagination, no restrictions regarding production costs, a table or a seat enable to push innovation of the materials for instance.
The Collector Tribune: It appears that the works of great designers of the past, similar to the works of elite contemporary talents, are increasingly perceived as exquisite forms of art. Why is that so?
Patrick Seguin: As they are indeed a kind of art, decorative arts say a lot on the aspirations of a period. In this respect the work of Jean Prouvé is a good example, since it expresses the 20th century’s quest for beauty in the use as well as the yearning to conceive elements of rational and comfortable furniture adapted to the new and modern society which emerged after World War One.
The Collector Tribune: What makes a design piece a work of art?
Patrick Seguin: There is no objective criteria. Let’s say it is the perfect equation between the accuracy of the object’s shape, its innovative characteristic in terms of aesthetic and technical and the way it fits into its time. As for Jean Prouvé and Charlotte Perriand for instance, their creations stem from a global thought of social, political and economic issues.
The Collector Tribune: How did your passion for collecting get started? Did you initially develop a passion for collecting or a profound interest for design and architecture?
Patrick Seguin: Certainly not by atavism, but my profession became a passion and I am trying to make of a passion a job.
The Collector Tribune: How and when did you fall in love with the body of work by Jean Prouvé?
Patrick Seguin: I discovered the first pieces, standard chair and compass table, in the late 80’s and my enthusiasm was immediate.
The Collector Tribune: In your introductory talk on the exhibition “A Passion for Jean Prouvé,” you often referred to the relationship between design and architecture in the late ’40s. How do you think this relationship will evolve in the future?
Patrick Seguin: I believe one cannot think of Jean Prouvé in terms of design only precluding architecture. For him “There is no difference between making a piece of furniture and making a building.” The synergy that exists between furniture and architecture, the interaction, the dialogue between art, architecture and design always seemed obvious to me and I think this situation will reinforce over time.
The Collector Tribune: What do you think will be the impact of digital culture and 3D printing on the future of design?
Patrick Seguin: This impact is already measurable in most architecture and design agencies. It will grow in the years to come as the generation who grew with these tools enters professional life. For all that, these are only tools and yet the pertinence of a project will always come from its creator. As far as the gallery is concerned, we can now relay broadcast live and share with everyone in real time the set up of Jean Prouvé’s houses thanks to streaming. It will be the case for the set up of the Metropole House on the Lingotto.
The Collector Tribune: What’s the aesthetic secret code that makes the work of Prouvé so fascinating?
Patrick Seguin: I do not think one can talk of an aesthetic code. This intention is not formulated by Jean Prouvé. His reflection is, on the contrary, based on relevance, to imagine the most accurate project which answers a specific need, to live, to sit, to sit at a table, to work, etc. beauty or aesthetic are the consequences of this creative process.
A Passion for Jean Prouvé
From Furniture to Architecture
6 aprile – 8 settembre 2013
Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli
Via Nizza, 230/103 – Torino