Following his father’s death,
17-year-old art student
took over his family’s furniture business in Lyon in 1919. He revamped the
production line to focus on modern designs and eventually launched his own
career as a designer of geometric, utilitarian furnishings finished with a
decorative alignment of gold studs. At The Salon: Art + Design
shows a rich selection of the French
master’s chairs, tables, and other decorative elements.
Sornay was a member of the
(UAM), a group of French artists,
architects, and designers, who sought to create art and
designs that were fitting and relevant to modern living, not only in terms of
aesthetics but functionality and practicality as well. Among his contemporaries
were designers with similar aesthetics; most
prominent among them were
, Francis Jourdain, and
Unlike the others, however, Sornay remained in Lyon instead of the art and
design epicenter, Paris, and was not well-known outside of his region.
Sornay found inspiration in the German
movements, creating pieces reflecting a harmony between art and architecture.
De Stijl influence is especially obvious in his Bookcase
on view at Galerie Alain
Marcelpoil, referencing the geometry of artists
Theo Van Doesburg.
Through mixing Art Deco’s deep mahogany, pine, and rosewood with
modern industrial materials like Permatex glues, Duco lacquer, and metal,
Sornay reinforced his unique aesthetic and its adaptability to modernity. His
first patent in 1932 for his Cloutage
technique involved covering a structure with veneered panels through applying
rows of tiny gold nails. This method of only covering the surface with fine
wood helped him to create unique, modern works that were also affordable.
Another notable patent was the 1953 Sornay Tigette,
a rod that he incorporated into his later designs in order to have removable