Pierre Cardin, A Legacy Of Everything 1922 – 2020

“I like to draw without constraint of corners, corridors, rooms or walls. Make sleeves to dresses or feet to a table, it’s the same thing”
Pierre Cardin


Pierre Cardin died at 98 years old last year, in a time of upheaval, confusion and complete uncertainty of what the creative world holds for us all in the future. Though Cardin’s career spans more than three-quarters of a century, he remains a futurist in all forms. His initial fame began in fashion, reducing ready-to-wear consumption, moving on to furniture design, and every other aspect of brand production.

It is a rare talent for one’s designs to remain contemporary some 40 years after they were released, and Cardin’s remain as fresh as ever. The French designer is celebrated for his avant-garde, otherworldly fashion. He has been decorated with numerous accolades for his trailblazing designs and humanitarian efforts (Cardin is the only designer ever to be admitted to the prestigious French society Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris).

Cardin’s furniture is another level unto itself, his futuristic light sculptures, as well as his inventive architectural, and interior works deserve a closer look. Cardin translated his ideas from fabric into wood, lacquer, metal, and glass sculptural designs. He drew inspiration from nature; his pieces mimicking skies and landscapes from countries all over the world. He loved to travel and found this an extremely important influence in his designs.

“Traveling helps understand what other people do, remember the past, see different cultures, but then you must translate what you see into something totally different, never copy. I was copied a lot.”

A chair designed by Pierre Cardin, in the Palais Bulles

Cardin began fabricating his furniture designs in the 1970s, producing different models. His ability to transport people to another unique universe was his gift.

Cardin is famously known for the Palais Bulles, an architectural creation in the south of France that he worked on between 1975 and 1989. Cardin had kept the structure as a summer residence, also functioning as an informal museum for artists and contemporary designers, and played host to fashion shows, film festivals, previews, and many creative performances.

Cardin, ahead of his time, was always influenced by geometric shapes, often rendered in fabrics like silver foil, paper and brightly coloured vinyl. These materials would shape the dominant aesthetic of his early 1960s furniture designs.

Cardin’s design legacy hits every corner of the globe. He was the first fashion designer to visit NASA, and the first to see the potential of the Chinese market. With a go-getter attitude, he targeted the Japanese as well as Soviet Union markets. The sky was the limit, and he explored everything through the dense cloud of creativity.

Even after his death, Cardin is still considered a trailblazer in the lucrative world of futurism, fashion and merchandise. As he told the New York Times in 1987:
“I was born an artist, but I am a businessman”.

The world needs to watch this space, as he certainly has not left us yet.

Anna Grassham / Head of Modern Design

March 2021