French Connection

Ad agency Raison Pure promotes its Parisian sensibility with a new furniture gallery in New York.

New York Design Week is a gateway for the creative world’s immigrants. Last May, New Zealand–based distributor Essenze introduced Americans to crafts and furnishings produced by Kiwis. Two years before that, Citizen:Citizen opened a hidden gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to showcase the work of young Brits Patrik Fredrikson and Ian Stallard. Now French design lands on American soil with Gallery R’Pure.

The gallery is the pet project of Raison Pure Design Group, an ad agency based in Paris and New York whose design division, R’Pure, creates packaging and branded objects for clients such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Johnnie Walker. Since R’Pure’s launch in 2004, art director Sébastien Servaire had envisioned an outlet that would allow him and fellow designers—including Arnaud Guffon, Justine Dauchez, and Christophe Merceron—to break free from the constraints of corporate identity. For last month’s inaugural collection, the team worked with Dijon-based manufacturer Cogitech using resin transfer molding to create the shelving system Infini, whose modules loosely resemble the mathematical symbol for limitlessness, and Murmur, molded-plaster decorative wall elements that look like bookshelves.

According to Odile Hainaut, who spearheads events and communications for Raison Pure and now manages the gallery project, the whole series is innately French. “I think it’s a combination of poetry and love of line,” she says. “It’s never complicated, and we always try for beauty. We are not going to do something crazy just to be crazy.” Upcoming projects include a reinterpretation of the ­eighteenth-century Grand Siecle tea set with the pewter manufacturer Orfévrerie d’Anjou. For an exhibit in September, French artist Frédéric Sofia will decorate the surfaces of two Parenthèses tables, which are folded from a single sheet of aluminum.

Raison Pure has had a Manhattan branch since 1999, and the gallery will be housed in a mezzanine-level space the company acquired in a recent move from Soho to the Flatiron district. Although they were first presented at January’s Maison & Objet trade fair, the objects will be made available here because “we thought New York would respond to the work,” Hainaut says, noting that the Paris scene “is much quieter.”

Hainaut also admits that “more dynamic” New Yorkers are willing to part with larger sums of cash. Most Gallery R’Pure products are produced in limited editions of 20 pieces or fewer, and they’re priced accordingly: Paren­th­èses sells for $4,000, and eight Infini modules cost $11,000.

Recent Programs