Jacques Emile Ruhlmann (1879-1933)
Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann was born in Paris in 1879. Though still quite young he enters his father’s painting and glass-making factory, before inheriting the management in 1907. Self-taught designer and one of the prominent figures of French Art Deco, his creations are displayed at the Autumn Salon in 1910; but it is only three years later that Ruhlmann reveals his taste for furniture at the same event exhibiting a complete living room set.
In 1923 Ruhlmann opens his own workshop near the Champ-de-Mars, in Paris. While not educated to the crafting of wood furniture, he personally follows the whole making process of his own designs. His creations perpetuate the great tradition of French furniture. The balance and sleekness of forms, the elegance of lines, remind of artists from the 18th and 19th centuries such as Reisener.
Ruhlmann is fond of dark hues and selects precious and exotic woods for his veneer layers like Cuban mahogany, rosewood from Rio, or ebony from Massacar. Subtle use of ivory for adornment, bronze for lockers and parchment improves the decoration and elevates his designs to pieces of the outmost luxury.
Working with famous architects and designers, Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann is entrusted with the decoration of the Collectionneur Hôtel in the 1925 Exhibition of Decorative and Industrial Arts. Among the numerous designers that assist him in his endeavour are Stefani, Dunand, Pompon, Decoeur or Lenoble. Success is immediate and considerable. Through his career Ruhlmann completed several state commands, conceiving for instance home furniture and decors for the Elysee Palace, as well as numerous private orders, working for the Maharaja of Indore in 1932, the Rothschild bankers, Rodier, Puiforcat or famous French writer Colette.