Maison Desny


Information on the history of La Maison Desny remains vague, more so than that on any other designer of the interwar years. La Maison Desny was not widely publicised. Only Lux, a monthly journal published in Paris briefly between 1929-1937 to chronicle developments in the field of domestic and commercial illumination, contained articles credited directly to ‘Desny’. It appears that Maison Desny was established by two designers, Desnet and René Nauny, from whose names the contraction of ‘Desny’ was derived. They were originally friends through working as quick sketch artists together, and formed a business partnership in 1927, then established themselves at 122 Avenue des Champs-Élysées in the French capital.

If the firm’s background has remained uncertain, the quality of its modernist designs has not. The works of La Maison Desny demand consideration for their rigorous geometric configurations and architectural proportions, novel and avant-garde even by today’s standards. The crisp symmetry and uniformity of their compositions in metal and glass stand out starkly from the host of other interwar metalware objects offered at present-day auctions specializing in twentieth-century design. The arresting juxtaposition of perpendicular shapes and planes, which recur in the firm’s creations, provides a ready form of identification even in those instances where the object is unsigned.

La Maison Desny is best known for its small functional objects, particularly lighting, although did in fact do complete interiors for high-profile clients including Georges-Henri Rivière, Pierre David-Weill, Mlle Thurnauer and the King of Belgium, often working alongside other designers such as André Masson, Alberto and Diego Giacometti and Jean-Michel Frank.


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