Pierre Chareau’s Maison de Verre Forshadowed Industrial Chic

La Maison de Verre, designed by architect Pierre Chareau in 1928

The Brief

Designer Pierre Chareau is responsible for one of Paris’s most exquisite modernist homes, winning both himself and the building a cult status. Commisioned by Jean and Annie Dalsace – two prominent art collectors and activists within the French Communist Party, the construction of this stunning house aimed to reflect their progressive thinking.

The Construction

Originally an 18th century hotel, the Dalsaces bought the site ready and eager to transform it. However, to their disappointment found that the elderly tenement on the top floor refused to sell and forced the couple to re-think their plans in order to not cause damage the neighbouring apartment. The first 3 floors were therefore stripped to leave just their structural skeleton, over which the famous glass wall was built. The unique combination of steel, glass and wrought metal, created a beautiful minimalist framework, way ahead of its time. The Maison de Verre predates today’s fashion for ‘industrial chic’ by almost ninety years!

Life in the Maison de Verre

Being primarily a furniture designer, Chareau built the house as one comprehensive machine that features rotating metal screens, sliding doors, rolling ladders and retractable staircases, perfectly functional and fitting with their environment. The house is mostly furnished with Chareau’s own pieces along with tapestry by Juan Lurcrat, to soften the industrial aesthetic. Its rooms are abnormally large and lofty, with double height in the ‘Salve de Sejour’ salon, a perfect setting for creative and avant-guard thinkers. Of which there were many! The Dalsaces hosted a great number of artists and Marxist intellectuals, the likes of which include Picasso, Max Ernst and André Breton. Today the home belongs to Robert M. Ruben who opens the house up for a limited number of tours, specifically for those studying or working in architecture or a related field. Though the waiting list might last 3-4 months, half an hour in the house is well worth your time. For more information or to arrange contact mdv31@orange.fr.

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