Tout Bois chair, 1941
Near the beginning of the War, the creation of an all-wood chair was a response to difficult circumstances: the Ateliers Jean Prouvé had to adapt their output due to the shortage of metal if they were to stay in business. The research department’s assessments of the performance of prefabricated buildings were also applied to furniture and by 1941, a combined wood/metal version of the chair no. 4 included such new details as a shaped, solid wood rear frame with no notch at seat level, and knockdown attachment of the metal tube front legs. This structure was retained for the Tout Bois model brought out in 1941–1942, in which the tubing was replaced with solid wood components—the legs, the braces, and the side members, whose tenons passed through the rear frame—in a way that stress this as a knockdown chair. The molded plywood seat and back, different in shape and manufacture from those of the chair
no. 4, were visibly screwed to the frame. This model was developed in conjunction with the Vauconsant company,1 to which its manufacture was subcontracted. The several variants identified may point to tests, fluctuations in the supply of raw materials, or initiatives taken by the subcontractor. The differences include types of wood, the shape and positioning of the legs, the making and attachment of the backs and seats, and the addition of lateral braces. After the War, more attention was given to the Tout Bois model, now made of oak and plywood, with or without tenons visible on the back of the frame. Proposed by Jean Prouvé in 1945 as “emergency furniture”, this model received an award in the Meubles de France (Furniture of France) competition in 1947.2 Intended for the private home market and the only one made by the Ateliers Jean Prouvé (1942–1947), it was gradually replaced by the knockdown wooden CB 22 chair, then by the no. 305 wood/metal type.
1. Situated at Saint-Nicolas-de-Port, near Nancy, Vauconsant worked closely with the Ateliers Jean Prouvé throughout the War, providing both wood components and finished furniture. Pierre Chartreux and Jean Prouvé were friends and directors of their respective companies.
2. This project, launched by the Ministère de la Production industrielle, was aimed solely at designers working with producers of editions, in order to promulgate serially produced furniture of high quality, and to “put a consequential amount of furniture on the market that was thoughtfully designed, that was aesthetically pleasing and of high quality, moderately priced and corresponding to the needs of the disenfranchised, the refugees, and young married couples, but also corresponding to the demands of the society at large.” The “all wood” dining ensemble presented by the Ateliers Jean Prouvé is ratified and purchased for the Mobilier national collection.