Maurice PRE


Maurice Pré was born in Paris on May 22, 1907. He received technical training from the École Boulle and graduated in 1924 to join Ruhlmann, where he remained until Ruhlmann's death, that is, for eight years. He then left for Switzerland where he worked with architect Laverrière. Upon his return to Paris in 1934, he carried out significant work as a decorator with architects Patout, Démaret, and Porteneuve.

From 1935, he became independent, presented furniture sets at the International Exhibition of 1937, and exhibited at the Salons of Decorative Artists, Autumn, Imagery, and Household Arts. The war, followed by another stay in Switzerland, interrupted his activities in Paris, which he resumed only after the Liberation. He then participated with some colleagues in the foundation of the Union of Decorative Artists and Creators of Sets (U.A.D.C.E) where he served as treasurer.

An active member of S.A.D, he represented it at the Confederation of Intellectual Workers and at the Union of Artistic Property. In 1946, he succeeded René Gabriel at the School of Applied Arts and in 1947 he was appointed professor of composition at the National School of Fine Arts in Nancy. Maurice Pré carried out numerous public and private installations in France, Switzerland, Italy, and the U.S.A, and was commissioned by the National Furniture to create several sets for the Elysée Palace.

Maurice Pré, with his training at École Boulle, is a knowledgeable technician and naturally curious about all the resources offered not only by experimental knowledge of the craft but also by new techniques and materials, which he enjoys studying with their specialists and creators.

Maurice Pré, alongside Ruhlmann, developed a taste for fine cabinetmaking and human functionalism, and he experienced the decorative value of pure, logically balanced shapes and volumes. He also learned from the architects with whom he collaborated, thus acquiring precise convictions to which he intends to remain faithful.

According to him, it is, of course, necessary to adapt to the user's personality, but while allowing them a "directed initiative", it is necessary to impose the concepts of the architect-decorator to whom they have entrusted themselves. This persuasive authority allows Maurice Pré to extend his activities into all areas where his tastes lead him - carpet models, mass-produced objects, lighting devices, decoration of earthenware and porcelain for the Manufacture de Sèvres and finally, as a painter and draftsman, he sometimes complements his interior designs with some of his pictorial works at the request of his clients, thus contributing to the desired unity.

While he was once the specialist in sumptuous bathrooms, he did not abandon mass-produced furniture, and the recent arrangement of a comfortable and luxurious living room in the basement of a country house interested him all the more as it posed multiple and complex problems for both the architect and the decorator.

In any case, Maurice Pré likes to confront the difficulty that attracts him with apparently simple solutions.


Sources : Mobilier et Decoration N° 1 Fevrier 1955

Photo Jean Collas