At 82 years old, French designer Maria Pergay has influenced generations of subsequent designers and wooed countless design enthusiasts—as Design Miami/ director Marianne Goebl has said: “Pergay is not only one of the few female designers to have left their mark on design history, she is also one of the few to have influenced the way we perceive a certain material.” In 1968, when Pergay presented her inaugural collection of stainless steel furniture at Parisian Galerie Maison et Jardin—including her now renowned Flying Carpet daybed (1968) and Ring chair (1970)—her designs offered an antidote to the hard-edged stainless steel shapes coming from her minimalist contemporaries. By incorporating fur, leather, and other softer organic materials with steel, Pergay offered a suppleness in shape and materiality. This is what she would become known for, and beloved for, and what 45 years later would lead her to be appointed a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture.
This week at Design Miami/, some of Pergay’s most iconic 1970s pieces will be exhibited by New York gallery Demisch Danant, while a new commission by fashion house FENDI will be unveiled—spanning the designer’s over four decade-long career. In anticipation of Pergay’s Design Miami/ super presence, we spoke with two of her longtime collectors, Silvia Venturini Fendi, creative director of accessories, menswear & childrenswear at FENDI, and Reed Krakoff, founder and Creative Director of his eponymous label and former president and executive creative director of Coach.
Reed Krakoff on collecting Pergay’s work:
“I saw [Maria’s work for the first time] in a book of 1970’s European interiors—it was an interior done entirely by her; and it was something that struck me, something I had never seen before. My wife, Delphine, and I did some research to find out [what dealers] were in touch with Maria. The first piece we bought was an acrylic and stainless steel dining table, an oval shaped table.
We try to collect work that we love, first and foremost, but we also try to collect things that have a unique spirit and are important to the period in which they were created. [Maria] was someone who took stainless steel and made it into shapes that were uniquely her own. Some of them were more curvilinear and organic—she was mostly using stainless steel and acrylic—but she had a warm modernist feel to the pieces, whereas most of the stainless steel pieces were really rigid and geometric. I like that she interpreted a new material in a way that was really unique; she combined something that was quite contemporary and, at the moment that she did it, with something more organic and more historical.
To me, a unique point of view is also something we look for when collecting work, so [Maria] was a pioneer, but at the same time she created something that was as timeless. We’ve kept every piece that we’ve collected over the last 15 years, and we live with them in different environments. Her pieces have an incredible resonance with any period that you put them with. The character changes as you mix them with pieces, from any decade; they seem to make sense and hold their space.”
Silvia Venturini Fendi on this year’s collaboration with Maria Pergay:
“Maria Pergay’s work has made design history and continues to be a point of reference for excellence in the design world. Maria is an absolute visionary, an extremely elegant woman whose ideas are always ahead of times. Like FENDI, her work with experimentation and materials knows no boundaries: she has a special strength, which never ceases to renew itself. This powerful, bold energy accompanies her through time, yesterday, today and in the future.”
On view at Demisch Danant, Design Miami 2013, Design Galleries, Booth G12, Dec. 4th – 8th.
Idee di Pietra in Gstaad, Switzerland