The DESNY company, founded by Clément Nauny, is a portmanteau word that combines «Dessin» [design] and «Nauny». The company design furniture, lights and silverware. Clément Nauny, born in 1900 in Oran, arrives in Paris in 1918 and socialises with the avant-garde artistic community where he befriends some members of the movement such as Alfred Masson or Alberto Giacometti. In 1927, this autodidact establishes the DESNY company and opens a boutique at 122 Boulevard des Champs-Élysées. The lights with indirect lighting and the modernist silverware that often resembles a sculpture achieve an immediate success. The visionary’s creations are of an astonishing audacity and are characteristic of the avant-garde movement thanks to their pure and asymmetrical geometric shape. Clément Nauny is not alone in the creation of decorative arts: he associates himself with two designers, Maurice Nauny, his brother, and Louis Poulain. He also worked with a workshop chief, Henri Dagneau. Most of DESNY’s lamps are made of nickel-plated metal and glass. Some, called «luminous knickknacks», are solely intended to light up the dark corner of a room. Sometimes, a mechanism allows the lamps to adapt their shape and vary the light intensity. The DESNY company’s most famous clients were the patron Pierre-David Weill, Georges Henri Rivière, Robert Mallet-Stevens and the Maharajah of Indore. Clément Nauny collaborated with famous fashion houses such as Chanel, Lucien Lelong or Worth. The Great Depression, generated by the Wall Street Crash of 1929, sadly ended the original approach of the DESNY company and forced the company to cease all activity in in 1933. Later on, Clément Nauny turned to another creative activity, costume jewellery, with a new company named «L’Hippocampe». He dies in 1968. As Raphaèle Billé writes in her master’s thesis, «The French Company DESNY still remains a real mystery to this day, both for the dazzling and forceful nature of its creations and for its short time span of existence and the little-known information of its creator. » In 1956, the museum of modern art of New York acquires two tumblers from the DESNY cocktail service.


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