Jean Royère

Jean Royère was a mid-20th-century French decorator and furniture designer known for pioneering modern pieces such as the Ours Polaire (Polar Bear) chairs. To this day, his furniture designs continue to captivate audiences with their signature unconventional shapes and vibrant colours.

Born in 1902, Jean Royère was the only son of a high-ranking civil servant from Brittany and his French wife, who had been raised in Vienna and was related to Charles Darwin and the founders of Wedgwood ceramics. After studying classics at Cambridge university, he worked with his uncle, a powerful figure in the import-export trade. However, in 1931 at the age of 29, Royère decided to switch professions and become an interior designer without any formal design education. His parents opposed to the idea, but finally gave in after the intervention of Louis Metman, a family friend who was also the director of the Museum of Decorative Arts .

Royère made an immediate impact in the industry, winning a competition in 1934 to design the restaurant of the Hotel Carlton on the Champs-Elysées. His interior design utilised unusual forms, marked by a joyous post-war fluidity and vitality. The inception of Jean Royère furniture in 1931 mirrored the era’s climate. Art Deco opulence and emerging Modernist principles gave way to experimentalism. Inspired by innovators such as Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann and Djo-Bourgeois, Royère’s work was bound for success.

Royère’s versatile designs garnered international acclaim and a prestigious clientele, having designed interiors for Prince Faisal and King Saud of Saudi Arabia and furniture for King Husein of Jordan and the Shah of Iran. Before World War II, Royère established himself in Cairo and subsequently opened a showroom in 1946. Later, he set up offices in Beirut and Tehran. In 1955, as the political situation in the Middle East deteriorated, he branched out to Lima and, two years later, to São Paulo. Despite his extensive global travels, Royère enjoyed retreats in Europe, owning properties in Saint-Tropez, Forêt de Marly and Mallorca. Each location enriched his designs with a distinctive style.

Transcending traditional methods, Royère played with unique materials. In 1949 at the Salon des Artistes Décorateurs, the ‘Flaque (Puddle)’ coffee table introduced Royère’s technique of straw marquetry. Throughout his career, Royère defied the strict categorisation of furniture making. Other Royère classic designs include the ‘Oeuf (Egg)’ chairs, the ‘Liane’ sconces and the ‘Éléphanteau’ armchairs.

Royère completed over 1,000 design projects before retiring from design in 1971. In 1981 he died in Pennsylvania, leaving his archives to the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris. Today, Royère is as popular as his contemporaries Charlotte Perriand and Jean Prouvé. Bridging elegance, comfort and a sense of humour, his designs carry an enduring appeal. In March 2023, a complete set of Jean Royère ‘Ours Polaire’ sofa and pair of armchairs achieved US$3,420,000 at Christie’s — a world auction record price for the artist and the model at the time.


JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

'Ours Polaire' Sofa and Pair of Armchairs, circa 1952

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Applique à six lumières ' Liane ', commande spéciale, 1962

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Paire de fauteuils 'Boule' dits 'Ours polaire', le modèle créé vers 1947

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Canapé 'Boule' dit 'Ours Polaire', le modèle créé vers 1947

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Paire de fauteuils 'Boule' dits 'Ours polaire', le modèle créé vers 1947

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Ensemble de huit chaises ' Trèfle ' , le modèle créé en 1939, celles-ci réalisées en 1962

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Paire de fauteuils 'Boule' dit ‘Ours polaire’, le modèle créé en 1947, ceux-ci réalisés en 1962

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

'Ours Polaire' Sofa, circa 1950

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Canapé 'Boule' dit ‘Ours polaire’, le modèle créé en 1947, celui-ci réalisé en 1962

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Porte-manteau 'Liane', commande spéciale, 1956

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Lustre 'Liane', vers 1950

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Canapé 'Boule' dit 'Ours Polaire', le modèle créé vers 1947

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

'Ours Polaire' Sofa and Armchair, circa 1950

JEAN ROYÈRE 1902-1981

Paire de fauteuils Boule dit "Ours polaire", le modèle créé en 1947

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

'Ours Polaire' Sofa, circa 1952

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Pair of 'Sculpture' Armchairs, circa 1955

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Pair of 'Sculpture' Armchairs, circa 1955

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Meuble à musique, commande spéciale, 1951

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Rare Salon Suite, circa 1955

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

'Tour Eiffel' Floor Lamp, circa 1947

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Canapé 'Boule' dit ‘Ours polaire’, le modèle créé en 1947, celui-ci réalisé en 1963

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Table basse 'Forme libre' dite aussi 'Cachalot', le modèle créé en 1958

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

'Yo-Yo' Table, circa 1950

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Rare 'Croisillon' Sofa, circa 1947

JEAN ROYÈRE 1902-1981

Canapé Boule dit "Ours polaire", le modèle créé en 1947

JEAN ROYÈRE 1902-1981

Paire de fauteuils Oeuf , le modèle réalisé à partir de 1954

JEAN ROYERE (1902-1981)

SALON 'BOULE', LE MODELE CREE EN 1947

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Rare ' Étoile ' Desk, circa 1948

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

'Ours Polaire' Armchair, circa 1950

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Rare 'Étoile' Sideboard, circa 1955

JEAN ROYÈRE 1902-1981

Paire de fauteuils Éléphanteau , 1964-1965

JEAN ROYÈRE 1902-1981

Enfilade, le modèle créé en 1943

JEAN ROYERE (1902-1981)

AN IMPORTANT 'CRENEAUX' DINING TABLE, CIRCA 1955

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Paire de fauteuils ' Œuf ' , version haute, le modèle créé vers 1954, ceux-ci réalisés en 1962

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Fauteuil ' Éléphanteau ' , version haute, le modèle créé vers 1939, celui-ci réalisé en 1962

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Rare 'Ondulation' Floor Lamp, circa 1950

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

'Flaque' Low Table, circa 1959

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Armoire, commande spéciale, 1951

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Rare 'Sculpture' Sofa, circa 1955

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

'Ondulation' Wall Light, circa 1948

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Important 'Forme Libre' or 'Cachalot' Low Table, 1966

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Lampadaire 'Anneaux', le modèle créé en 1939

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

TABLE BASSE 'SPHÈRE', MODÈLE CRÉÉ VERS 1939

JEAN ROYERE (1902-1981)

A 'BOULE' SOFA, MODEL DESIGNED 1947

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Pair of 'Yo-Yo' Sconces, designed for Jean Royère's Personal Villa 'Almudayna', Palma de Mallorca, circa 1960

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Table basse 'Forme libre' ou 'Cachalot', le modèle créé avant 1958, celle-ci réalisée en 1962

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Suspension 'Bouquet' à huit lumières, le modèle créé en 1948

JEAN ROYERE 1902-1981

Lampadaire Persan , le modèle créé en 1952

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Table basse, vers 1950

JEAN ROYÈRE (1902-1981)

Paire de fauteuils 'Oeuf', le modèle créé en 1954