André Sornay’s Furniture for Modernity

Artsy Editorial
Nov 13, 2013 3:20PM

Following his father’s death, 17-year-old art student André Sornay 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 fair, Galerie Alain Marcelpoil shows a rich selection of the French master’s chairs, tables, and other decorative elements.

Sornay was a member of the Union des Artistes Moderne (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 Le Corbusier, Pierre Chareau, Francis Jourdain, and Charlotte Perriand. 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 Bauhaus and De Stijl movements, creating pieces reflecting a harmony between art and architecture. De Stijl influence is especially obvious in his Bookcase and Trolley on view at Galerie Alain Marcelpoil, referencing the geometry of artists Piet Mondrian and 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 parts.

On view at Galerie Alain Marcelpoil, The Salon: Art + Design 2013, Booth #, Nov. 15th-18th.

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Artsy Editorial