Market Talent: Steeling Beauty
Karen D. Singh, Alexia Brue, and Sheila Kim-Jamet -- Interior Design, 9/1/2008 12:00:00 AM
Imagine having Pierre Cardin purchase all the furniture in your debut collection, only to turn around and commission more. Such was the experience of Maria Pergay in 1968. In addition to operating a Paris shop that sold antique and modern silver objects, she'd been designing her own for Christian Dior and Hermès when steelmaker Ugine-Gueugnon approached herabout creating a line of furniture. That was the beginning of a distinctive style based predominantly on forming hard, flat metal into satiny flounces and silky ruffles—though she was certainly capable of fashioning a more tailored look, as evidenced by the Ring chair's bull's-eye seat. After that, though, the public didn't see much of her. She was too busy furnishing palaces for Saudi Arabia's royal family, pausing only to design a few prototypes, such as the whimsical Daisy chair for her own house in Provence.
She returned to great fanfare when New York's Demisch Danant gallery signed on to represent her, showing limited-edition pieces that combine stainless steel with materials that are exotic, even decadent. Delicate silk tassels adorn the Flying shelf, a stainless half-pipe. Put a luxury spin on Tejo Remy's strapped-together chest of drawers, You Can't Lay Down Your Memory, and you've got her Coolie, its highly figured ziricote drawers inlaid with aluminum, shagreen, agate, and ematithe and elegantly balanced on a sled base. An untitled desk combines stainless steel, brushed steel, Macassar ebony, bone, and palm wood. For the Ribbon pouf, she fashioned steel into a flamboyant bow enameled a shiny red. And the Bracelet pouf boasts a supersize buckle. InSeptember, she introduced four items at the JGM Galerie in Paris. Among them was the Chevet bedside table, a stainless cube with a GeorgeNakashima–esque mahogany inlay wrapping the sides.