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Maria Pergay with Pierre Cardin, 1977

ON HER 85TH BIRTHDAY, MARIA PERGAY LOOKS BACK AT HER DECADES-LONG DESIGN CAREER

Iconoclastic furniture designer Maria Pergay turns 85 years old today. She’s spending her birthday in the south of France, where she’s settling into a short reprieve from a six-month production spree. For the past year, she’s moved swiftly between workshops specializing in steel, wood, and bronze as she prepares for the May 2016 unveiling of a new body of work, rumored to be her most surprising yet. It’s a bold, but not unfounded prophecy considering Pergay’s illustrious and overwhelmingly experimental career that’s seen her bend stainless steel into free-flowing bows that double as seats, forge dressing screens for Saudi Arabian princes from golden tiles, and craft surrealist sofas for Pierre Cardin by topping plush leather with tortoise shells.

A week ago, I sat with Pergay’s dealer, Suzanne Demisch—who, with Stephane Danant in 2006, helped resurface the French designer’s work by hosting her first New York solo show in over 30 years—as she scrolled through the designer’s latest sketches. They pictured the first iterations of the forthcoming collection, a series of tables, cabinets, and armoires that, even when rendered in pencil, are sumptuously elaborate and laden with a variety of materials—woods, stones, geodes, and bones, among them—sourced from Africa, China, and sometimes the her day-to-day locales. “They are all materials that have a history,” Pergay tells me. “They are what attracts and engages me right now.” This seems fitting, at a time when she’s looking back at her own 50-year-long career...

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An Artsy editorial, written by Alexxa Gotthardt

 

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