Care for design? Go to see works by Pierre Paulin at Paris Manufacture des Gobelins

The Manufacture des Gobelins is a 1913 building located on Paris avenue des Gobelins, in front of a historical factory specialized in tapestry.


This front building is actually the Galerie des Gobelins, now showing a large selection of works by Pierre Paulin.


The presentation uses a mirror ceiling, and all pieces of furniture are set on a mirror, so that you can have a look at these from every angle.


The ground floor shows pieces of furniture from late fifties to early eighties, very elegant, colorful and …up to date


On the walls are tapestries made by the Gobelins factories on twentieth century artists works, like this one, by Sonia Delaunay:


The exhibition’s subtitle is “le design au pouvoir” ( “design in power”? ) referring to the fact that Pierre Paulin worked for the “Mobilier National” (National Furniture), as for example this desk and armchair designed for François Mitterrand’s office.


It’s only natural that this exhibition takes place here, for since Colbert, the Gobelins were in charge of royal tapestry and furniture works.


Climbing the imposing stairs, meet this typical early twentieth century style “bas relief”


over which hang a selection of National Furniture chairs ( created between 1980 and 1982)


The upper floor leads you to President Georges Pompidou and his wife’s apartment. When they moved in the Elysée Palace – house of all French Presidents – they found it terribly old fashioned and dull, and asked Pierre Paulin not only to design furniture and dishes, but to rebuild the whole inner space.


A dining room piece of furniture in front of a Pierre Soulages tapestry:


A 1966-1968 designed “declive” :


A range of armchairs designed in the sixties :


And an incredible black and white seat made for 15 people (1963)


And this leads us down by backstairs, on the wall a modern work made of threads reminds us the main function of the Manufacture des Gobelins : weaving tapestries.


But before leaving, if you understand French, go back to the main stairs, in the basement is running an interesting video interview with Pierre Paulin – who is over 80 now – in which he tells about his work for the Pompidou couple and for French Government.

This pleasant journey into one of the major twentieth century French designer’s world also reminds us that not so long ago, some French Presidents were interested in and promoting modern art and did not think of culture only on terms of plowing.

Manufacture des Gobelins 42 avenue des Gobelins 75013 Paris, Metro Gobelins, guided tours of the factory Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 2 pm and 2.45 pm, reservations on tel : 33(0)1 44 54 19 33 or 33(0)1 44 08 52 00. Price 8 euros.

For more information :

Exhibition “Pierre Paulin, le design au pouvoir”, Galerie des Gobelins (same address) ,tel 33(0)1 44 08 53 49) everyday (except Monday and May 1) 12.30 18.30, price 6 euros. Up to July 27.


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