Centrale table, 1951
Jean Prouvé first came up with the trapezoidal bent steel base idea in the 1930s, for lecture halls chairs. He then reused it late in 1949 for a control desk for the Electricité de France power station at Dieppedalle. A few months later he applied the principle to a large reading table, at the request of Charlotte Perriand, who was furnishing the Maison de l’Étudiant in Paris. The metal parts were made in Maxéville: a base made of bent steel legs fitted with inverted cup feet and linked by a beam that also supported the sheet aluminum lighting channel designed in conjunction with André Salomon. The center’s library was equipped with seven tables of two different sizes, each with a thick wooden top designed by Charlotte Perriand and executed by André Chetaille. Not long afterwards, a version of the same base was used for a new model, a large table for conference rooms and lecture halls: the Centrale table was attributed tubular bent steel legs with inverted cup feet, held together by an inset “uniform strength” beam to which were attached the support brackets for the top. For large table tops—350 cm or larger—an extra leg or one or two additional support brackets could be added. The metal parts were oven lacquered and the top, which was usually rectangular, was of veneered or melamine-covered laminated wood. This model was marketed for public sector offices and conference rooms from 1952 onwards, and used for the common areas in the Cité Universitaire in Antony, in 1956. The variations modified the central beam and the mounting of the support brackets, to which were welded disks or lugs. Plans for a version without support brackets—the top resting directly on disks welded to the feet—seems not to have reached the manufacturing stage.