The Steph Simon Gallery symbolizes one of the main places of modern French design in the post-war Paris. Planned to open in December 1955, it finally opened in March 1956, at 145 Boulevard Saint Germain. It quickly became, in the course of the 50s and 60s, one of the most important venues of the artistic culture in Paris.
Steph Simon started, before the gallery, in 1949, as a concessionaire of Ateliers Jean Prouvé for the commercialization of furniture and prefabricated structures. His location — then at 52 avenue des Champs-Elysées — was not an exhibiting place for Jean Prouvé’s furniture but an office. These few years allowed him to establish a close relationship with major French architects and important companies of the Reconstruction. Most of them would later become privileged clients.
When it opened in March 1956, the Steph Simon Gallery was a major exhibiting space for modern design. It presented furnishing pieces of Jean Prouvé and Charlotte Perriand, the lighting fixtures of Serge Mouille, the cylindrical ceramics of Georges Jouve and the rice paper ball lights of Isamu Noguchi. Steph Simon also used the opportunity to exhibit a few other designers — sometimes introduced by Charlotte Perriand, such as Sori Yanagi — who revealed another facet of the gallery; ceramics by Yves Mohy and Pierre Culot, weavings by Simon Prouvé, tableware by Jean Luce or even a chair by Serge Kétoff.
Another innovative and visionary element was to open very quickly, within the gallery, a small design office in order to draw projects for interior design, including furniture by Charlotte Perriand, Jean Prouvé or Serge Mouille. This design office was active from 1956 to 1960. It also drew, for Charlotte PErriand’s “bloc” bookcases and sideboards, custom-made models, adapted to the place. A whole new generation of architects, but also the first interior designers, came to the Steph Simon Gallery to buy contemporary furniture and objects in order to invent new decors.
Steph Simon participated in very few professional fairs, but was however present at the Salon des Arts Ménagers in 1958, in the “Foyer d’aujourd’hui” section, which represented an essential place for contemporary creation at the time.
After several years of development, the gallery closed in 1974. Saint Germain-des-Prés then lost an important place of post-war French design.
In 2007, the Laffanour-Downtown Gallery, perpetuating the tradition in the rue de Seine, bought the Steph Simon Gallery and its stock. Since the, the Laffanour-Downtown Gallery has been working on its archives in order to authenticate and research collector’s items.
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