"Ours Polaire" Sofa
December 8, 05:46 PM GMT
400,000 - 600,000 USD
"Ours Polaire" Sofa
oak, fabric upholstery
27 x 92 x 50 in. (68.6 x 233.7 x 123.1 cm) approximately
Arguably one of the most recognizable furniture designs of the 20th century, Jean Royère’s “Ours Polaire” sofa (also known as the “Boule” sofa) was originally designed in 1947 for Royère’s mother’s apartment at 234 rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré in Paris and first presented that same year at La Résidence Française, an exhibition organized by the publication Art et Industrie. This first example is now held in the permanent collections of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. The form, also adapted as an armchair, became ubiquitous in Royère’s interiors throughout the 1950s and 1960s and emblematic of the designer’s predilection for pure elegance free of any superfluous ostentation.
Their uncluttered design and seamless round curves make them protective alcoves with a timeless quality, equally as chic now as they were over 70 years ago. They also reflect Royère’s predilection for whimsical and sophisticated pieces of furniture that draw inspiration from the natural world. The 1950s saw Royère develop a number of pieces referencing such themes, from the “Egg” and “Elephant” chairs to the “Sphere” tables and “Liane” light installations. The “Ours Polaire” designs exude the textural softness of the polar bear while simultaneously reducing any anthropomorphic reference to complete abstraction.
At a time when avant-garde designers experimented with new materials and techniques, their construction relied on rather traditional cabinetmaking methods. Photographs of an “Ours Polaire” sofa frame, which appear to have been taken in the courtyard of one of Royère’s artisans in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, show the complex wooden understructure that served as the initial armature. To this sturdy carcass was added a metal frame padded with horsehair and fabric upholstery on top of it, typically a plush velvet sourced from Italy.
Royère’s production being largely made to order, the number of pieces produced were limited. Clients had the opportunity to commission an individual “Ours Polaire” sofa or a pair of armchairs, or order them together as a living room set. Between 1947 and 1967, only around 150 sets were made, plus another 150 individual sofas and 150 pairs of chairs. Unlike many other icons of mid-century furniture, the form was never re-editioned, making the present offering a particularly exciting opportunity for collectors to acquire a complete and matching suite of this historic design.