THE BEAR NECESSITIES AND JEAN ROYERE



 

A few years ago, I remember being asked by Veere Grenney to “Find a polar bear [for a client]…there’s bound to be one in Paris at the moment.”

Now that’s something you don’t hear very often!

 Let A-Gent of Style explain first.



This is NOT a polar bear…




THIS is a polar bear!

1949 Ours Polaire set

1949 Ours Polaire set



‘L’Ours Polaire’ was the name given circa 1950 by the eminent mid 20th C French designer Jean Royère to the bulbous three-seat curved-shaped sofa with a banana-shaped backrest standing on cylindrical legs. Originally created and called ‘Boule’ (‘ball’), it is first recorded as being upholstered in off-white wool and being part of a set coming with a pair of armchairs also, ahem, bear-ing the same name.









1952-53

Interior full of ‘Royere’ 1952-53

 








In the last few years, A-Gent of Style has been extremely lucky and privileged to see in person a few Ours Polaire mainly at auctions around the world and at antique dealers’ in Paris: PAD in Berkeley Square in 2011, Galerie Matthieu Richard (a couple of years ago, Matthieu and Sophie had a ravishing Ours Polaire sofa covered in bright canary yellow velvet adorning their diminutive shop window rue de Seine. It was gone by the time I went back to Paris a few weeks later), Galerie Downtown, Galerie Patrick Seguin and of course Galerie Jacques Lacoste, the ‘authority’ on Jean Royère.

Jacques Lacoste

Jacques Lacoste on an Ours Polaire armchair

 

The latest most comprehensive exploration to date about Jean Royère is a new two-volume linen-bound monograph by a joint publication of Parisian powerhouses Galerie Jacques Lacoste and Galerie Patrick Seguin that came out in February this year. The slipcovered edition took more than five years of research to produce. No wonder: Royère sketched some 3,000 confections annually! Fascinating and indispensable. #2013Christmaslist #generousbenefactor

The latest monograph on Jean Royere by Jacques Lacoste and Patrick Seguin

 

1952 drawing of an interior by Jean Royere from Lacoste's new book

1955 gouache of a living room by Jean Royère from the monograph

 

Monography on Jean Royere by Jacques Lacoste and Patrick Seguin

In 1931, aged 29, Jean Royère (1902-1981) resigned from a comfortable position in the import-export trade in order to set up business as an interior designer. He learnt his new trade in the cabinetmaking workshops of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine in Paris. In 1934, he signed the new layout of the Brasserie Carlton on the Champs Elysées and found immediate success. This was the beginning of an international career that was to last until the early 1970s.

A key figure of the Avant-garde in the 1950s, Royère tackled all kinds of decoration work and opened branches in the Near East and Latin America. Among his patrons were King Farouk of Egypt, King Hussein of Jordan, and the Shah of Iran as well as wealthy families in South America who were captivated by his freedom of creation and his elegance and entrusted him with the layout of their palaces. Royère pioneered an original style combining bright colors, organic forms and precious materials within a wide range of imaginative accomplishments. In 1980, he left France for the United States, where he lived until his death. he originality of his style, his inherent refinement, and the poetry of his touch establish Jean Royère among the pantheon of great decorators of the 20th Century.


Jean Royere shop in Beirut

Jean Royere shop in Beirut

 

“We find pieces everywhere—Tunisia, Morocca, Algeria, of course Iran,” said Guillaume Cuiry, owner of Paris and Dubai-based La Galerie Nationale, dealing with top 20th C furniture.

“But when the Shah married the Shabanu in 1959 [Farah Diba, then 21, his second wife], she wanted to put her mark on the palace.” She was in love with classic 17th- and 18th-century French furniture, so many of the Shah’s Royères were tossed.




‘L’Ours Polaire’ has now become one of the most covetable pieces of 20th C furniture in the design world, reaching astronomical prices at auctions or through private collectors sales. Similarly to their animal counterparts, Ours Polaire sofas and armchairs come out of ‘hibernation’ only rarely: Jean Royère wasn’t a mass designer – contrary to his contemporary counterparts Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand or Jean Prouvé – and designed one particular model in a few editions hence the rarity and scarcity of most of his pieces.









This singular 1950 ‘Boule’ armchair sold for $92,500 at Phillips auction in New york in June 2010 (Private commission made in Paris for an important Lebanese family)






In June 2007, Artcurial sold one rare 1949 green velvet Ours Polaire armchair for 204,468 €:






In June 2009, Phillips auction sold this Ours Polaire sofa in New York for $194,500 (from a private Collection, Lebanon):


and this 1951 model in London for £133,250 in October of the same year (from Galerie Downtown, Paris):





At Design Miami/Basel in June 2009, Jacques Lacoste sold an Ours Polaire sofa, asking price 480,000 euros:





Six months later, Patrick Seguin another Ours Polaire suite for around 610,000 euros:





In June 2011, Lacoste sold an Ours Polaire sofa, chair and pouf for 800,000 euros:





Brioult Enchères even sold the carcass of this 1946 Ours Polaire for 76 000 € in February 2010:







As is the custom on A-Gent of Style, here is a selection of Ours Polaires amongst some of the most discerning interiors, decorators and collectors:

simply divine

simply divine



by Dimore Studio - WOW!

by Dimore Studio – WOW!

 

by Jacques Grange

by Jacques Grange

 





The fabulous Delphine Krakoff of Pamplemousse Design with (half showing of) a Ours Polaire

The fabulous Delphine Krakoff of Pamplemousse Design with an Ours Polaire sofa (half showing) in her NYC house

 

Reed and Delphine Krakoff NYC house

Reed and Delphine Krakoff (of the wonderful Pamplemousse Design)

Reed and Delphine Krakoff NYC house

 

by Jacques Grange

by Jacques Grange

 

by Dimore Studio







by Francis Sultana

by Francis Sultana

 

by Shelton Mindel & Associates

by Shelton Mindel & Associates

 

    Jean Royère Stand Galerie Patrick Seguin Design Miami Basel, 2008. Stand designed by India Mahdavi

Jean Royère Stand Galerie Patrick Seguin Design Miami Basel, 2008. Stand designed by India Mahdavi

 



A black and white rendering of Waldo Fernandez's living room

A black and white rendering of Waldo Fernandez’s living room with an Ours Polaire sofa

 

Originally designed for the French Embassy in Finland, part of a suite called boule (ball) later reverting to bear

Originally designed for the French Embassy in Finland, part of a suite called boule (ball) later reverting to bear

 





by Joseph Dinand

by Joseph Dinand

 

by Joseph Dinand

by Joseph Dinand

 

by Joseph Dinand

by Joseph Dinand

 

by Joseph Dinand

by Joseph Dinand

 

Kim Kardishian (sorry, too tempting to resist)

Kim Kardishian (sorry, too tempting to resist #laughorcry)



Wouldn’t you want to adopt and be cuddled by an Ours Polaire now?

Bear-ly unthinkable





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