Cultured Magazine

June/July 2015

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116 CULTURED Contributing Editor and collector George Lindemann takes a seat in Maria Pergay's Ring chair. PHOTO © DEMISCH DANANT W hen you chart the careers of the world's most successful designers, there is often one defining moment—an event in time that catapults the designer from experimental tinkerer to revered master as their ideas begin to influence an entire generation. For Maria Pergay, that moment came in 1968, when she introduced her first collection of stainless- steel furniture at Galerie Maison et Jardin in Paris under the direction of decorator Jean Dive. The pieces transformed a material that had, until then, been known primarily for its unforgiving qualities. Pergay's creations—chairs, daybeds, tables and desks—feature sensuous curves that make them alluringly cool, with forms that offer the surprising promise of comfort. She frequently mixed materials as well, further taming the metal with upholstered cushions, leather fur and lambskin. Almost overnight, she attracted an enviable list of clients, including Pierre Cardin, Salvador Dalí and the royal family of Saudi Arabia. The icon of Pergay's 1968 collection, which looks as fresh today as it did half a century ago, is the Ring chair (although her Flying Carpet daybed, which Brigitte Bardot once famously lounged upon, is just as fondly remembered). The chair was inspired by the spiraling form of a single strip of orange peel. Although designers create new chairs each year, few offer the sort of magnetic attraction the Ring exudes. Wherever you see it, you notice it. The chair simply draws people in for a closer look. Fortunately, for collectors the chair has steadily increased in value, and now consistently sells for $50,000 or more at auction. Born in Romania to Russian parents in 1930, Pergay arrived in France in 1937 as a 6-year-old émigré. She studied costume and set design at the Institute des Hautes Etudes Cinématographiques in Paris and sculpture in Montparnasse. In the 1950s, she was working in retail window design. In the early '60s, she began making fine, small-scale silver decorative accessories—cigarette cases, decorative champagne coolers, jewelry boxes—that attracted commissions from Hermès and Christian Dior. But since embarking on large-scale stainless-steel creations, she hasn't looked back. Today, Pergay continues to produce new work, which thrills international collectors at design fairs and at her longtime dealer, Demisch Danant. Pergay has expanded her material palette to include other metals, including bronze and copper, along with a wide range of woods; her mastery of stainless steel remains the star of the show. COVETABLE CURVES

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