January 24, 2014 7:24 pm

Why Adnet’s 1950s Circulaire mirror still looks modern today

The French master of art deco was one of the first designers to integrate metal, glass and leather
Circulaire mirror

There aren’t many mirrors that can be considered design classics. Yet the Circulaire – designed by Jacques Adnet (1901-1984), often referred to as the French master of art deco – is more than just a plain mirror.

“What a lot of work to achieve simplicity,” Adnet once said of his work. His preferred materials were glass and leather; the two came together in this mirror, which he created in the 1950s. During this period he was working in collaboration with Hermès, although there is no record of whether he made the mirror specifically for the French store.

Despite its simple design, the mix of materials made the Circulaire an unusual product for its time. Adnet was one of the first designers to integrate metal, glass and leather. It was also very precisely made: the width and length of the strap are directly in proportion to the diameter and depth of the mirror. Such a minimal design, combined with high-end materials, means that it still looks modern today.

Born in Burgundy, Adnet studied at the Municipal School of Design in Auxerre and, later, the École des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. He later set up his company, JJ Adnet, with his twin brother Jean, and by 1925 he was recognised as one of France’s most promising young designers at both the Salon d’Automne and Les Expositions des Arts Décoratifs.

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Two years later he was appointed director of the Compagnie des Arts Français where his team included French furniture designer Charlotte Perriand. This gave him the ideal platform to promote his modernist designs, which often consisted of simple linear styles with minimal decoration or embellishment.

In addition to his furniture, Adnet also decorated apartments and offices for clients such as Vincent Auriol, then the French president, and Unesco.

Adnet’s mirror went out of production in the 1950s. It wasn’t until Gubi, a Danish firm, acquired the licence for the mirror in 2001 that it started to be made and sold again. Last year Gubi produced another of Adnet’s designs: the Rectangulaire mirror, which can be freestanding but retains the equestrian-influenced oxidised brass rivets. Both mirrors are made in a small factory in Tuscany.

The 45cm Gubi Adnet Circulaire is on sale for £474 via nest.co.uk

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