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La Maîtrise - Grands Magasins des Galeries Lafayette - Expo Paris 1925

La Maîtrise - Grands Magasins des Galeries Lafayette at the Exhibition Expo Paris 1925
Architect(s) : Jean Hiriart, Georges Triboul, Georges Beau

It is no surprise to the public that a great shop of novelties, particularly fond of modern art, has been placed at the head of the current evolution, of which the Exposition des Arts Décoratifs is an imposing manifestation.

To make the fruits of this happy evolution indirectly accessible to all circles, to mark the taste by applications likely to bring out and appreciate the value of the aesthetic formula resulting from the new school, such is the task we have set ourselves.

A large shop such as Galeries Lafayette was therefore duty bound not only to serve the cause of modern French art with all its power of influence and penetration, but also to precede the movement by doing original work on this point. Is this not, in fact, an objective that fits directly into the very definition of our activity, since it has never ceased to be at all times a continuous effort directed towards the search for novelty in the whole field of art?

In this realization, we still had to choose the direction and the note in which we should carry out our creations. We solved the problem by insisting above all on the element of "quality" by establishing units of a high aesthetic order and proven technique. A superior work must be a model; rationally and logically conceived, it must contain all the principles of taste from which the followers will then be able to derive formulas that will set a precedent.

Thus, under the impulse of the Master Maurice Dufrène, a host of artists and craftsmen directed by his science, his proven taste, his high artistic conscience, produce daily practical works of irreproachable taste, responding to the public's favour, at the same time as to the current necessities of life.

The Pavilion of the "Maîtrise" is the result of a competition established between all French architects, whose jury, presided over by Mr. Paul Léon, director of the Beaux-Arts, had awarded the first prize to the project of three young artists:
Messrs Tribout, Hiriard and Beau. It is their work that has been fully realised.

As for the interior, which is entirely the work of our "Maîtrise" workshop, Maurice Dufrène and his collaborators, it appears with its seven rooms as one of the most characteristic ensembles of current French taste. We wanted, and our collaborators helped us wonderfully, to continue the great and healthy tradition, to create furniture, carpets, fabrics, etc., adapted to our present life, to carry out a decoration in conformity with our manners, our tastes, our customs, to constitute, in a word, the environment where moves, with its feelings, its new uses, the modern Man, eager to live in the peace and the joy of a personal home.

Each room presented by us obeys a reasoned aesthetic according to its character or its destination; an analysis of the rapprochement of the different formulas desired by Maurice Dufrène can therefore constitute a lesson. The Chambre d'Homme is intended for a single, active businessman who seeks a diversion from his work through sports.

The five-part wardrobe, with its large drawers and small compartments, is above all practical; the smoking table, the smoking chair, the comfortable tan leather armchairs, the tiger or panther skins, all contribute to the comfortable aspect of this strictly masculine room. The lines are sober, straight, slightly curved towards their ends: no mouldings or vain details, clean volumes, precise plans.

The material of which the library is made is of such a special nature that to look for a decoration outside of it would have been a mistake: walls, ceilings, woodwork, everything is of varnished banded mahogany. The heavy and deep armchairs are of mauve grey velvet, the curtains of brown and mauve damask; a few discreet lamps, a carpet with geometric meanders, a reading light, a low bookcase complete this room of work, meditation and peace.

The Dining Room is of a different order: it is the room for an evening reception; here, neither intimacy nor simplicity, but luxury on a new scale with new materials: steel, stucco, marble, crystal.

The originality of this dining room is accentuated by the table, a vast flourish of polished steel set on a marble base and supporting an immense slab of pure crystal. Placed almost against the wall, it moves forward like a bow, leaving the hostess's seat at its end.

The general colour scheme is blue, steel and silver; polished stucco walls, marble floor, bright ceiling. The table is illuminated from below, with jets of light
The table is lit from below, with water jets running the length of it, illuminated by a long crystal basin which is punctured from place to place by clumps of cornflowers. The room is dressed in a fresh and refined harmony.

All the femininity, all the grace is in the Lady's Room: a pale and soft harmony of whites graded down to blond, a skilful cameo that no coloured note distracts. Majestically, the wide and low bed stands out from a silver niche with a gold halo. A long chest of drawers with a heavy curve, made of white maple with lemon and silver stripes, stretches out under an enormous round mirror with a luminous frame: the low table, the white velvet armchairs, the walls covered with white moire with gold lamé, the white wool carpet, an admirable white bear skin with a silver muzzle, a flock of white pigeons, the ceiling with a milky light, everything asserts this desire for white harmony. The ensemble is completed by a charming grey and pink boudoir by Gabriel Englinger and Suzanne Guiguichon and by a havana hall, with gold mosaics where various pieces of furniture, carpets, chandeliers and many art trinkets accumulate.

On the first floor, glassware, vases, clocks, embroidery, a thousand new things, etc. Two tea rooms of a pleasant freshness, one pink and old blue, the other lemon and green, where, every day, our numerous Customers are received.

This is our work.

The considerable effort we have made with the desire to contribute as effectively as possible to the current renaissance of the Applied Arts demonstrates once again that our Stores have become important animating powers, always serving the cause of all the artistic events linked to the economic development of our country.

©L’Illustration - 1925