Creations #67 et #68

"Libres & Égaux" ("Free & Equal)

Bespoke order for the French Mobilier national

Fall 2021 - Spring 2022

This pair of Baumann chairs from the 1950s is part of the “Les Aliénés” collection of the French Mobilier National Agency, which entrusted them to the dual artistic intervention of handweaver Atelier Le Traon and upholsterer Franck Ciani.

These chairs are being exhibited at the Galerie nationale des Gobelins in Paris from 10 to 21 June 2022.

An artistic collaboration for a work in two phases

This work was conceived as a work in two phases:

First, the weaving of a monumental fabric with a powerful symbolic charge; second, the sheathing with this fabric of the two Baumann chairs, themselves considered in their duality as a symbol of respect and dialogue.

Two different chairs, yet united by a common warp and weft…

THE FABRIC

By FDR Presidential Library and Museum

« All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.

They are endowed with reason and conscience

and should act towards one another

in a spirit of brotherhood. »

WEAVING IN MORSE CODE

This long fabric (30 in x 18 ft), with a pattern reminiscent of tweed and tartan, conceals a coded message in its weaving. The rhythm of the weaving adopts those of the international Morse code to transcribe the French version of the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.

To decipher it, you have to look at the orientation of the diagonals of the pattern in the shades of blue and yellow: in each shade, the orientation of the diagonals draws columns or lines more or less wide: these rhythms are those of the Morse code, succession of short (•) and long () signs.

The thin or wide stripes in each shade of blue and yellow make up the letters, themselves drawing the words separated between them by the thin white stripes.

   L     I     B     R   E S    (“FREE“)

• — •• / •• / — ••• / • — • / • / •••

E T  (“AND“)

• / —

E   G     A   U     X  (“EQUAL“)

 • / — — • / • — / •• — / — •• —

The width of the fabric encodes the phrase “Êtres humains libres et égaux” (“Rree and equal human beings“) and the length encodes the entirety of Article 1.

The fabric was woven from recycled wool yarn using an innovative process from a French Living Heritage mill, Filature du Parc in Brassac, in the south of France.

 

UPHOLSTERING

The upholstering was done by the upholsterer Franck Ciani, with whom Mathieu Le Traon has collaborated on various other projects.

The upholstering of the two chairs required very long hours of work and a meticulous and patient know-how.

After a slight refurbishment of the seat, it was upholstered with high density foam and covered with a canvas before the “Libres et Égaux” fabric was applied. Approximately forty meters (43 yards) of hidden stitching was used to invisibly cover the two chairs.

The arches of the seat and the bars of the backrest were deliberately left bare, echoing the modest origins of these two iconic chairs from the Parisian bistros of the 1950s.

The pair of chairs is exhibited at the Galerie nationale des Gobelins, 42 avenue des Gobelins, Paris XIIIème, from June 10 to 21, 2022 on the occasion of a special exhibition, alongside other Aliénés (“alienated”) pieces entrusted by the Mobilier National Agency to thirty artists and designers.

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