The DESNY House was founded by Clément Nauny and designed furniture, light fixtures and silverware. The name “DESNY” comes from the contraction of “Dessin” (design) and “Nauny” words.
Clément Nauny was born in 1900 in Oran. He arrived in Paris in 1918 and socialized with the avant-garde artistic community where he formed friendships with some members of the movement such as Alfred Masson and Alberto Giacometti. It was in 1927 that this self-taught artist established the DESNY House and opened a shop at 122 Boulevard des Champs-Élysées.
The indirect lighting fixtures and modernist silverware often resembling sculpture experienced immediate success. The creations of this visionary are characterized by audacity and remarkable boldness, align with an avant-garde movement through their pure and asymmetrical geometric forms.
Clément Nauny was not alone in decorative art creation; he collaborated with two designers: Maurice Nauny, his brother, and Louis Poulain; as well as a workshop chief, Henri Dagneau.
Most of DESNY’s lighting fixtures are made of nickel-plated metal and glass, some known as “bibelots lumineux” (illuminated trinkets) are solely intended to light up a dark corner of a room. Sometimes, a mechanism allows the lamps to adapt their shape and vary their light intensity.
The DESNY House’s most famous clients were the patron of the arts Pierre-David Weill, Georges-Henri Rivière, Robert Mallet-Stevens and Yeshwant Rao II Holder, Maharajah of Indore. Clément Nauny also collaborated with renowned fashion houses such as Chanel, Lucien Lelong or Worth.
The Great Depression, generated by the 1929 “crash”, sadly ended the original approach of the DESNY House and forced the company to cease all activity in 1933. Later on, Clément Nauny turned to another creative activity : costume jewellery. His new brand was named “L’Hippocampe” (seahorse). He dies in 1968.
As Raphaèle Billé writes in her master’s thesis, “The French DESNY House still remains a real mystery to this day, both due to the dazzling and forceful nature of its creations and for its short duration of existence and the limited information of its creator.».
In 1965, the Museum of Modern art of New York (MoMA) acquired two goblets from the DESNY cocktail service.