Prouvé RAW, G-Star's latest collaboration in promoting its creative approach to other fields outside of clothing, links the denim brand with modernist Jean Prouvé's furniture designs. Two years ago, the Amsterdam-based company approached Swiss contemporary furniture manufacturer Vitra and proposed a makeover of 14 pieces by Prouvé. Creative teams from both sides worked via email, video conferencing and in-person meetings to realize the project, the fruition of which is on display at the Vitra Fire Station in Weil am Rhein, Germany until 31 July 2011. Between October and November this year, nine of the pieces, ranging from $1,210 to $7,225, will be available to buy through Vitra. Here, G-Star's Global Brand Director Shubhankar Ray gives us more insight into the partnership.
Why did you choose Prouvé?
Over the years [we've] collected, bought and appreciated Prouvé's furniture pieces. We ended up meeting Vitra and found that they also shared our maniacal dedication to design innovation, technology, craftsmanship and quality. So we decided to work together on a unique design experiment fusing our design DNA with Vitra and Prouvé. We jointly wanted to re-launch Prouvé's classic pieces... to make Prouvé available and accessible to more people and not only the happy few who can afford, collect or find Prouvé's furniture.
What was the process behind the collaboration?
Both creative teams visited and were immersed in each other's world. We even tested Prouvé RAW prototypes as the set built for one of our fashion shows last summer where we had the audience sitting on Fauteuil Direction chairs. About 20 people were involved from both sides, along with Catherine Prouvé, Jean's granddaughter.
What are some of the distinctly G-Star updates that were incorporated into Prouvé's designs?
We re-interpreted Prouvés originals by using new production techniques and adjusting the ergonomic aspects, such as size correction in the chairs to make them more suitable for today's man and woman versus the 1951 original. We also used new materials for the Fateuil Direction chair, like square-weave canvas, which ages with character - it's too obvious and expected for us to use denim. We used natural leather for the armrests of the Cite chair, like [with our] belts. For some of the tables, like the Tropique, we changed the top from solid wood to a more modern steel. The other element was the colors; for example, with the Direction chairs, we finally settled on neutral dark gray - close to G-Star's DNA.
Which sorts of challenges did both teams have to overcome in coming up with the updated designs?
The challenge was to add as little design as possible, to just underline the usefulness of the product.
What did the G-Star team take back to the company from this experience?
A focus on democratic functionality and the use of raw and high-quality materials to incorporate into our store designs, showrooms and brand architecture. A good learning [point] is also of our democratic purpose and the usefulness of modernist furniture and particularly Prouvés designs that match denim. When Prouvé's furniture gets old, it ages with character just like worn-in or damaged denim.