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Friday Focus - The Compas Direction table from Vitra

One of the notable characteristics of the recent Milan Design Week, and indeed all design fairs these days, is the ongoing love we have for mid 20th Century design. The enduring appeal of such products, often with subtle reinventions to make better use of modern materials or to appeal to contemporary tastes, is best exemplified by the work  of Jean Prouvé. 
Prouvé was born in Paris in 1901 and like many of his contemporaries was something of a polymath, working in fields as diverse as fine art, architecture, industrial design, furniture design and metalworking. It's no coincidence that he thrived at a time of profound social and economic change, the growth of internationalism and the establishment of the design movements that characterised that era and whose influence remains the benchmark for how we see design to this day. 

Yet although he was a contemporary of the modernists and the Bauhaus movement and shared their love of logic and design purity he did not always share their love of tubular metal which lends his work a unique feel. Typical of his designs is the Compas Direction table, originally designed in 1950 and still marketed by Vitra to this day. It's name derives from the splayed vectors of its legs, which typically for Prouvé are manufactured in bent sheet steel. 

The ongoing appeal of such products is not just down to the aesthetic reminder of a pre-technological era. The products' inherent visual authenticity would not be enough by itself to satisfy the principles of form and function that we most associate with the mid 20th Century design movements. 

They represent the perfect functional solution for modern workers too. Now largely devoid of bulky desktop PCs, peripherals and paper,  the contemporary office is increasingly inhabited by people equipped with laptops, tablets and minimal hard copy making the compact, elegant simplicity and sophistication of the Compas Direction table a product that is both of its own time and also for ours. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. 

To find out more about Vitra Prouvé Compas Direction Table please click here.
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