Louis Majorelle (1859 – 1926) French Designer and cabinetmaker

A mahogany desk with inlaid veneers, gilt bronze mounts, and leather writing surface. Designed by Louis Majorelle
A mahogany desk with inlaid veneers, gilt bronze mounts, and leather writing surface. Designed by Louis Majorelle. (Sotheby’s)

Louis Majorelle (1859 – 1926) was a French Designer and cabinetmaker.

Biography

Majorelle took over the family cabinetmaking and ceramics business in Nancy in 1879. In the late 1880s, he began designing Modern furniture. Working in the Art Nouveau style, Majorelle was the most dynamic practitioner of the School of Nancy. By mechanising his factory, he produced significant quantities of highly decorated commercial furniture and more elaborate pieces using expensive materials such as mahogany, burr walnut, and ormolu. The firm‚Äôs catalogue included a wide range of furniture models in both historicist and Art Nouveau styles. 

Unconventional furniture

Known primarily for his unconventional furniture, he designed pianos, desks, armchairs, and, when his workshop included metalworking, wrought-iron railings, ormolu, iron mounts, and lighting. 

  • Tray (1899-1900) Wooden marquetry tray the design is of an asymmetric floral spray, with a bee on the top right. Designed by Louis Majorelle
  • Lamp ca. 1925 designed by Louis Majorelle
  • Armchair (1899-1900) by Louis Majorelle (V&A)

He produced the metalwork for Daum, and it made the glassware for Majorelle‚Äôs lighting. Majorelle designed lamp bases with cloth shades similar to those of Louis Comfort Tiffany. 

In 1901, he became vice-president of Ecole de Nancy. After World War I, he moved into the Art D√©co idiom with more severe forms and restricted ornamentation. Henri Sauvage designed his residence in Nancy. The firm continued after Majorelle‚Äôs death under Alfred L√©vy, its artistic and technical director. 

In the mid-1930s, L√©vy was joined in the Atelier Majorelle by Paul Beucher. The firm had showrooms in Nancy, Paris, and Lyons. 

Exhibitions

Work was shown at the 1903 Ecole de Nancy exhibition, Paris. With Alfred L√©vy, he designed the study for the Nancy pavilion at the 1925 Paris ‚ÄėExposition Internationale des Arts D√©coratifs et Industriels Modernes.‚Äô

Sources

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

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