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Jan Martel apartment
The small duplex on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the Hôtel Martel was occupied by Jan Martel and his family. It is laid out around the main stairwell, the 2nd floor entrance opening on to the living-dining room, which extends at the same level out to a south-facing terrace. The upper floor is reached by interior stairs up to a landing, which serves two bedrooms and a bathroom.
This apartment survived almost in its original state and conserves many fine examples of Mallet-Stevens’ experimental designs.

Jean Prouvé also designed several pieces for the Hôtel Martel, some of which are still to be seen in place in the Jan Martel apartment. They include:
- The polished stainless steel handles on the two sliding doors that open to the terrace, also to be found on the study door and on the door separating the two bedrooms.
- An ingenious curtain rod designed as two parallel stainless steel tubes carrying sliding balls with hooks on which to hang the curtain. The rod held up a curtain woven to designs by Hélène Henry, which served to screen the entrance to the atelier from the main entrance vestibule. Unfortunately, both rod and curtain had disappeared, but when the Jan Martel apartment was refurbished replacement models were made from existing plans and photos; they now serve to screen the picture windows giving on to the terrace.
- The stainless steel balls used as grips on the sash windows that equip all three apartments.
- The convex door and other metal elements of the Studio-Bar, specially designed by Charlotte Perriand for one of the bedrooms, and which is now in the Pompidou Centre collection.

Jean Prouvé
Fauteuil Grand Repos, vers 1929

Preceding page. The spiral of the stairwell.

© Pierre-Olivier Deschamps / agence Vu - Page précédente © Luciano ROMANO

Jean Prouvé also designed and made various pieces for the other townhouses in the set, which figure in the chapter “La rue Mallet-Stevens, un lieu historique”.
On the other hand, we do not know for certain who designed many other pieces of metal millwork, such as the counter-weight system for the sash windows, the sliding doors, the doors on the pantry cupboard, and the garage doors.
Some of the cast aluminium grips, including those on the entrance doors of all three apartments, are the work of Mallet-Stevens himself and are stamped ‘R M S’.
All the sash windows are equipped with roller shutters, their wooden laths painted yellow outside; they are activated by a cord-and-pulley system reminiscent of a yacht’s halyard. There are also Venetian blinds that retract on a metal chassis, which enables them to be deployed at an oblique angle from the windows and thus act as sun-shades.

Jean Prouvé
Fauteuil Grand repos réglable, vers 1929

© Pierre-Olivier Deschamps / agence Vu

In all his works Mallet-Stevens paid careful attention to colour schemes.
In preparation for the monograph retrospective of his oeuvre at the Pompidou Centre in 2005, scraping samples of all the different layers of paint used in the Jan Martel apartment were taken by a team of curators, to ascertain what the original colours were. Their findings enabled precise restoration.
The colours used reflect the fact that the Martel brothers were sculptors, and no doubt they had a say in choosing them: mineral tones for floors and walls, with red ochres, pinks, browns, greys, all suggestive of clay. And of course there is yellow, which was Mallet-Stevens’ favourite colour. (The casino at St Jean de Luz was painted bright yellow!)
The kitchen was done in two shades of blue.

Le Corbusier et Pierre Jeanneret
Chauffeuses et banquette à pieds courts, 1955

Charlotte Perriand
Banquette Cansado, grand modèle, c. 1958

© C. Baraja – E. Touchaleaume. Archives Galerie 54, Paris.

Three types of material were used for floors throughout the entire building, and they express the hygienist principles of the period:
- Tiling for kitchen, bathroom, interior stairs and terrace, with geometrical patterns and colours created by the Martel brothers.
- Terrazzo for the entrance and living room, with finer components than in the shared parts. Skirtings in brown-stained cement step up from the floor at wall bases to facilitate mopping.
- A mix of brown stained cement and powdered cork for bedrooms. This material is noteworthy for the history of architecture insofar as it represents an early experiment in compounding thermal insulation and soundproofing. As in the living room, skirtings in brown-stained cement protect wall bases.

Charlotte Perriand
Banquette Cansado, large model, c. 1958

Eckart Muthesius
Fauteuils et guéridon pour le Palais du Manik Bagh, Indore, c.1930

© C. Baraja – E. Touchaleaume. Archives Galerie 54, Paris.

The living room, amply lit by a double picture window, extends out to a terrace accessible by a door designed as four glazed panels, the two central leaves of which slide to either side, on the same principle as the main entrance to the building.
Originally the living room had a made-to-order fit-out designed by Francis Jourdain, consisting mainly of wooden storage units sliding on steel rails. The entire set was purchased by the Pompidou Centre in 2006 from the heirs of the Martel family.
Period photos of the living room also show tube metal pieces made by Thonet, in particular models designed by Marcel Breuer.
All rooms have the same type of ceiling light: a frosted glass plaque that diffuses light shed by a bulb fitted into the ceiling.
A curtain designed by Hélène Henry separated the entrance from the living room. A line of red terra cotta mosaic in the granito floor also established a virtual threshold between the two spaces

Le Corbusier et Pierre Jeanneret
Chauffeuses et banquette à pieds courts, 1955

Charlotte Perriand
Banquette Cansado, c. 1958

© C. Baraja – E. Touchaleaume. Archives Galerie 54, Paris.

On the terrace, a large planter in untreated concrete contrasts with the rough textured white render of the wall against which it is placed.
Guard rails in the form of steel tubes painted black are surmounted by tube frames on which canvas covers may be stretched in order to ensure privacy.
A door (now condemned) formerly enabled direct access from the 1st floor apartment occupied by Joël to the terrace of his brother Jan’s apartment above.
A door mounted on rails opened onto a small pantry in front of the kitchen, which was designed by Mallet-Stevens. This functional space was abundantly fitted out with storage units and had a food safe built into the external wall.
The interior stairs of the apartment, which wrap around the cylindrical shaft of the building’s main stairwell, lead to a landing that serves the two bedrooms and the bathroom.
The landing features a built-in storage unit with three drawers opening in a splay, attributed to Djo-Bourgeois. Its back follows the curved shaft of the main stairwell, which shows how important space-saving was to the designers.

Jean Prouvé
Table Flavigny ou Granito, 1945

Jean Prouvé
Chaises Tropique, c. 1950

© Photo Galerie 54, Paris.

The south bedroom, which looks out onto the terrace, still has all its original furnishings. There is a bed, a cosy-corner and a wardrobe; the two latter pieces – like the ones that Jourdain designed for the living room – are suspended to enable easy cleaning of the floor under them.
There are also some very functional storage units, equipped with mirror door, moveable arm, fold-up tablets, sliding covers, drawers with collapsible face or that open in splay… All of these pieces were designed by Mallet-Stevens, with input by the owners; they were made by cabinetmaker Jean Bonino and have a cherry wood veneer.
In the adjoining bedroom, the Studio-Bar designed by Charlotte Perriand and made by Jean Prouvé, which is now in the collections of the Pompidou Centre, has been replaced by two Brazza type wardrobes, attributed to Prouvé and Perriand, which come from the Unité d’Habitation Air France at Brazzaville, 1951.

Pierre Jeanneret
Fauteuil Committee chair, c.1953-54

Le Corbusier et Pierre Jeanneret
Chauffeuse à pieds courts, 1955

Charlotte Perriand
Banquette Cansado, c. 1958

© C. Baraja – E. Touchaleaume. Archives Galerie 54, Paris.

Pierre Jeanneret
Table de lecture, c.1963-64

Jean Prouvé & Charlotte Perriand
Placards Brazza, 1952

© Photo Olivier Amsellem.

Jean Prouvé
Rayonnage mural, 1936

© Pierre-Olivier Deschamps / agence Vu

Pierre Dariel
Salon de jardin, c. 1926

© Pierre-Olivier Deschamps / agence Vu

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