Arte TV presents new Andrée Putman documentary: a designer in love with modernity

A new French documentary titled ‘Andrée Putman, la grande dame du design’ directed by Saléha Gherdane airs on Arte TV at 4.50pm CET on Sunday, 15 January 2023

Andrée Putman documentary stills
Left, Andrée Putman photographed by Jean-Baptiste Huynh in 1992. Right, the staircase at Gildo Pastor Center, Monaco, 1996. 'I had promised a staircase like a necklace,' she said of the design
(Image credit: Courtesy Arte TV)

On Sunday, 15 January 2023, French television network Arte in collaboration with Paris' Galerie Ecart presents a new Andrée Putman documentary directed by Saléha Gherdane and charting the incredible legacy of the interior designer. Airing at 4.50pm CET, the documentary features extended interviews with her daughter Olivia Putman, who since 2013 has taken over the studio and continued on her mother’s work, as well as testimonials from designers Philippe Starck and Vincent Darré, design historian Anne Bony, and Martine Péan, director of Bordeaux's CAPC contemporary art museum, designed by Putman in 1983. 

Andrée Putman documentary: grand dame of design 

Andrée Putman documentary stills

Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche, Paris

(Image credit: Courtesy Arte TV)

Born in 1925 into a middle-class family, Putman grew up with music and art, and met her husband, art critic and collector Jacques Putman, in the 1950s. The pair developed friendships with some of the most avant-garde artists of the time, from Niki De Saint-Phalle to Bram van Velde.

The bathroom at the Morgans Hotel in New York with her signature monochrome graphics, designed in 1984

The bathroom at the Morgans Hotel, New York, designed in 1984

(Image credit: Deidi Von Schaewen)

As France’s approach to the home was changing, Putman worked at culture magazine L’Oeil, specialising in design and creating vignettes that offered an innovative point of view on decoration and combining objects in an eclectic way, before moving to department store Prisunic, where she eventually became art director of the Home Department. Through her work, she aimed to democratise design, creating modern, beautiful pieces for less.

Andrée Putman documentary stills

Putman's own loft in Saint-Germain-des-Prés

(Image credit: Courtesy Arte TV)

Among her most iconic creations was her own apartment, which she created in 1978 in a loft within a former factory in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, conceiving a new way of approaching and dividing the space. ‘Nothing like that had been seen at the time,’ says Olivia Putman, explaining that her mother’s style was a strong contrast to the bourgeois approach that had dominated interiors up until that time. The space was decorated with an eclectic array of objects and furniture, from antiques to rare 1920s pieces, with a strictly black-and-white palette that would become Putman’s signature. ‘Not calculated, but well-considered,’ said Darré of her interior work.

Andrée Putman documentary stills

Le Concorde interior revamp, 1994

(Image credit: Courtesy Arte TV)

Many of Putman's most iconic designs have become almost legendary: from her black-and-white bathrooms at New York's Morgans Hotel to the stacked escalators at Le Bon Marché and the staircase of Monaco's Gildo Pastor Center ('I had promised a staircase like a necklace,' she said of the design). 

The hour-long documentary revisits her most important designs and creates a fitting portrait of her revolutionary approach to interiors.

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Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.