Furniture designer Pierre Vandel was born in 1939 in Roubaix, on the outskirts of Lille in France. He is best known for his angular tables, which exude the glamorous yet minimalist aesthetic that heavily dominated French furniture and lighting design in the 1970s.
Vandel pursued a vocational qualification in industrial assembly and design, before joining a research team at the prestigious engineering and research schools Ponts et Chaussées and Arts et Métiers in Paris. Interested in innovative technology and various types of product development, Vandel experimented with a vertical aquarium and hi-fi systems, before dedicating himself to the well-established fields of table, chair, and lighting design.
In 1969, the company Marais International placed an order to distribute 5,000 units of the relatively unknown designer’s work. It was however, his meeting and subsequent friendship with the iconic fashion designer Pierre Cardin (b. 1922) that proved to be the real turning point in Vandel’s design career, launching him into international success. Cardin supported Vandel’s efforts by encouraging him to create his own brand, Pierre Vandel – Paris, and then spread the word to the rich and famous, who purchased Vandel’s designs.
Vandel’s designs—which included dining tables, side tables, desks, and coffee tables that feature aluminum, lacquered wood, or plexiglass frames with brass details and smoked or transparent glass tabletops—were exported to customers in New York, London, Melbourne, and Tokyo. His Vertèbre Chair (1972), which is named after its spine-like aluminum frame, was upholstered in thick brown or black leather. In production for four short years, only 800 chairs in total were produced—half with armrests and half without. The Vertèbre Chair earned Vandel a reputation for being an avant-garde, innovative designer among the design community, but the history of this rare lounge chair has been somewhat overshadowed by the more accessible “Hollywood Regency ” style of Vandel’s larger edition designs.
Now in his late-70s, Vandel continues to tinker with new products in his workshop in Croix, close to where he grew up. His 1970s designs are in healthy demand on the vintage market.