Mathieu Matégot (Hungary, 1910 – 2001)
Mathieu Matégot is undoubtedly a forerunner of contemporary design.
His involvement in innovative techniques and original forms makes him one of the most special figures of the 1950s, stamping his imprimatur on French style in that fertile postwar period.
In the 1940s, and quite off the cuff, he introduced the notion of creation and aestheticism into the making of humdrum objects, with a particular fondness for rattan and metal. He lent these objects a one-off form, which made them all identifiable. His brilliance lay in the fact that, before anyone else, and from 1945 onward, he used perforated sheet metal in a quite novel way. This was a material he had discovered during his captivity in Germany. By inventing a new technique, he created a new matter. First, he perforated the sheet metal in a conventional way with clover designs, then with small square and round holes. In 1952, he christened this pierced grid-like network, which was usually painted black, with the pretty and evocative name of « Rigitulle ». He developed a machine that could bend, fold and fashion sheet metal like a piece of fabric, which, in turn, gave him a great deal of freedom of expression (cf. the “Java“, “Soumba“, “Bagdad“, “Satellite“ series, etc…).
His creativity did not stop with the way he used metal : he also made use of rattan, brass, formica, glass (sometimes engraved), different species of wood, as well as fabric and leather, in an infinite number of variants.
For the other distinctive thing about Mathieu Matégot resides in the amazing production of small pieces of furniture and everyday objects, somewhat old-fashioned but always delightful, for which he managed to invent “modern” forms and lines (trays, wastepaper-baskets, magazine racks, glass holders, flower-pot holders, occasional tables etc..) These pieces were exhibited at major fairs and shows (Salon des Art Ménagers, Salon des Artistes Décorateurs, Arts de la Table), then distributed in editions of 200, on an exclusive basis, to decoration shops. By being at once practical, clever, cheap, strong and nice, they quickly enjoyed a brisk success, both among the press and the public. They actually tallied with the decorative trends of the time as well with the small size of new apartments being built as part of the postwar reconstruction program.