The bookshelf designed for the new Cité Universitaire in Nancy met the requirements for durability and economy laid down in the call for tenders in 1930. Like the other items of furniture created for the same brief, it comprised a metal frame painted dark red with components in solid polished wood. The uprights had folded edges and were joined at the back by two flat iron bars, and welded to each were recesses into which slid the slightly protruding shelves. This self-supporting unit was intended to hang on a wall or stand on the floor. The sixty bookshelves made may have been followed by others, such as the variations designed shortly afterwards for sanatorium bedrooms. In 1936, a model just as simple but quite different was used for the teachers’ bedrooms in the boarding section of the École Nationale Professionnelle in Metz. The triangular-section bent steel uprights were reinforced with U-shaped metal hanging brackets and deeply slotted to receive the solid wood shelves, also slotted. The bottom of each upright was angle profiled. The standard unit comprised two uprights and two shelves, but variations included the size and number of uprights, the size and placing of shelves, and the addition of sliding drawers on runners. An elegant application of this system was to be found in a planed hanging sideboard, but with the household market as yet nonexistent, the shelving system was temporarily restricted to the public sector.1 A few years later the principle was adapted to a bookshelf specially designed for Pierre Chartreux, owner and director of the Vauconsant firm to which the Ateliers Jean Prouvé subcontracted the making of wooden furniture: three triangular bent steel uprights, whose upper edge was cut on a slant, held five angled wooden shelves, one of which was wider than the others and served as a writing table. After the War, the Ateliers Jean Prouvé used other systems for various models of hanging shelves.
1. This bookshelf figured notably among the school furniture items presented by the Ateliers Jean Prouvé at the Exposition de l’Habitation, Salon des Arts Ménagers, Paris, January 1937.