Joseph-André Motte



Joseph-André Motte is a French designer, known as the “designer des Trente Glorieuses” (the 30 years of post-war economic growth): he is one of the Modernity leading figures and he designs both private and public spaces.

A precise design

After graduating valedictorian of his class from the École des Arts Appliqués à l’Industrie in Paris in 1948, he began his career with some great architects and designers as René Gabriel (1899-1950), Louis Sognot (1892-1970) and Albert Guénot (1894-1993). Joseph-André Motte is a man of network who loved to share: the beginning of his personal activity is marked by the collective. Indeed, he founded in 1954 the Atelier de Recherche Plastique (ARP) with Pierre Guariche (1926-1955) and Michel Mortier (1925-2015), then the Group 4 with René-Jean Caillette (1919-2004), Geneviève Dangles (born in 1929) and Alain Richard (1926-2017).
Joseph-André Motte quickly became famous in the field of interior architecture and furniture. He designed ingenious displays and his stands at the Salon des arts ménagers are always a great success: art historian Patrick Favardin (1951-2016) wrote about young girl’s bedroom presented at the 1961 edition and manufactured by Charron that “volumes have both the elegance to underline their function and being forgotten”.
His design is comfortable and perfectly mastered: an article of La Maison Française dating from 1964 underlined that it conceived with ”precision and concern of decorative qualities well adapted to the contemporary concerns”. His edgy creations are designed with an obvious rationality where comes out an elegant harmony tending towards the universal. He reinterprets classical forms thanks to modern techniques and simple materials, like wood, Formica or rattan; including the last one in his famous “Catherine” armchair or his “Chistera” set.

From private to public

His collaborations with numerous famous editors, such as Steiner, Hucher-Minvielle, Rougier or Disderot, are the proofs of his success and his significant place in the contemporary design world. He also participated in prestigious projects with the Mobilier National and established his reputation in the public area.
Indeed, he is recognized as one of the most important designers of local and regional authorities. He was in charge of the furnishing and the equipment of major urban sites like the Parisian subway in 1973, for which he creates the famous colored seats-shells and the bevelled white wall tiles. Among his achievements, we should mention the Orly airport with their sofas and geometric chairs (1958-1961) alongside the architect Paul Andreu (1938-2018), the maritime station of Le Havre (1963-1964) or the Val-D’Oise Prefectoral building in Cergy-Pontoise (1970).
He gradually retired from the spotlight and devoted himself to teaching. He trained generations of designers thanks to his positions at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs (Ensad), the École Boulle and the École Camondo. He awarded the highest distinction by the French Ministry of Cultural Affairs as a Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres.

Joseph-André Motte’s designs are precise, beautiful and functional. He said that “the wonders of tomorrow will be born from the alliance of function, structure and form”. The general public doesn’t know him well but he is one of the most important figure in furniture landscape. He is part of the second generation of designers of the post-war period, alongside Jacqueline (born in 1932) & Philippon Lecoq (1930-1995) or Jacques Dumond (1906-1991). 

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