Modern Icons: Pierre Paulin Chairs

An orange piece, a pumpkin, a ribbon and a tongue. These four things have something in common: They all served as inspiration for sculptural chairs designed by Pierre Paulin (1927–2009). Their contours and volumes are futuristic using a midcentury modern soul. Some appear to be cut out of strong volumes; others look like upholstered origami; some even swipe their geometry from parasites and fruit. The frequent thread is that they are soft and sculptural, and your intrepid guests will make a beeline for them when choosing a seat.

Speaking of intrepid, the guy behind those seats designed furniture since the midcentury age (hence the aforementioned soul), for individuals including French presidents Georges Pompidou and Francois Mitterrand. Upon Paulin’s departure in 2009, then-president Nicholas Sarkozy paid tribute, saying, “He left layout into an art form. … The beauty of his work spread far and wide, from the furniture of the presidential palace to the everyday lives of millions.” Museum curators in MoMA and The Victoria and Albert Museum also hold Paulin in high esteem and have added his designs to their collections.


Pierre Paulin Tongue Chairs – $2,846

Paulin said, “A seat ought to be more than simply functional. It should be friendly, fun and colorful.” These Tongue Chairs fit the bill.

Rachel Reider Interiors

Paulin’s Pumpkin Chair seems to be carved out of a cylinder. It is a playful piece that’s ideal for children …

New Mood Design LLC

… and fun-loving adults alike. It looks like a bean bag that is grown-up.

Alexander Butler | Design Services, LLC

The Pumpkin Chair is an unexpected occasional seat in this bedroom.

Abelow Sherman Architects LLC

The Ribbon Chair is not the same kind of sculpture, emerging out of a rack and wrap itself round the person sitting on it. Paulin admired Japanese layout, and the Ribbon Chair has an origami-like form.

Elliott Kaufman

The Orange Slice Chair is one of the most popular of Paulin’s designs. It adds a comfortable, modern touch to this particular nursery.


Amsterdam blogger Kaylovesvintage included an Orange Slice Chair to her well-curated classic furniture collection.

Griffin Enright Architects

The photography of this room by Griffin Enright Architects reveals how the seats change based on your perspective. In the trunk, you’re fascinated by what the seat looks like but can’t quite tell.

Griffin Enright Architects

The negative view reveals the unique silhouette, which is curved, deep and beckoning you to come test its relaxation.

Griffin Enright Architects

In the front, the view looks more flat and round, and the separation between the slices isn’t so visible.

One Orange Slice Chair will include all the curves you want to the predominantly rectilinear borders in a modern room.

Daniel Sheehan Photography

The form of this Orange Slice plays nice with all the curves of a Noguchi coffee table.

This vibrant raspberry number is Paulin’s Globe Chair. Using bold color is another one of his trademark moves.

UP insides

We’ll wrap with all the Mushroom Chair and Ottoman, two more signature Paulin pieces.There’s certainly something quite Pee Wee’s Playhouse about them, which is almost always a good thing.

Inform us Enjoy them? Not much? Got a favorite? Please share with us in the Comments section.

More Modern Icons:
Frank Gehry’s Wiggle Chair
The George Nelson Coconut Chair

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