‘Low Table’, 1961
JACQUES DUMOND (1906-1991) is recognised as a seminal figure within the modernist movement in France. A generation younger than pioneering figures like Le Corbusier, Eileen Gray and Robert Mallet-Stevens, he joined the radical French Union of Modern Artists only in 1945. But through his example and his teaching, he carried the ideals of minimalism, functionalism and a reductive approach to ornamentation into the second half of the century, marrying an interest in new industrial materials and methods with traditional craftsmanship.
This table, in aluminium, polished steel and glass, was created as part of a major public commission undertaken by Jacques Dumond and Philippe Leloup in 1961 for the interior and furniture of the tourist class lounge of the new ocean liner SS France. The Salon Saint-Tropez was the largest room on this iconic ship, itself an emblem of French luxury, and until 2004 the longest passenger vessel in the world. The table reflects the confident ambition of France in the ‘Trentes Glorieuses’ era of economic prosperity and technological change – using industrial materials to create furniture that is light, sleek, stylish and robust but with a sense of humour. Dumond had begun to design furniture using aluminium in the 1950s – a metal that was ideal for an ocean liner, which required materials that were lightweight and non-flammable. But this table is not merely functional: it harks lovingly back to earlier traditions of French design with its sensuous finish and elegant detailing.
The table is one of three objects presented by Demisch Danant, specialists in French design from 1950s to 1980s, at this year’s TEFAF Online, running until Monday 13th September.