Jules Leleu was a renowned French artist and furniture designer who came from a family of artists and artisans. He was born in July 17th, 1883 in Boulogne, France. His family house (the house of Leleu) has been a household name since the 1700’s. Leleu’s family had a business firm (Maison Leleu) that existed from the 18th century to 1973. Jules’ children later took over the ownership of the business, towards the end of its life. He studied architecture, and during the World War 1, he worked as an Aviator. At the end of the War, he settled fully to specialize in design and open his Gallery (Maison Leleu). When he was twenty-six years old, he took over the operation of his father’s business with his brother, Marcel.
He was one of the inventors of French Art Deco Design. His works portrayed simple designs, shapes, marquetry, exotic woods, and inlaid ivory. Leleu had a profound love for his tradition, as the years rolled by, he became so adventurous that he began to experiment with aluminum, plastic, fiberglass, and lacquer while using his children. Leleu’s fame grew noticeable and spread far and wide when he designed the Prestigious SS Normandie and SS lle de France. He also designed some French Embassies all over the world. Other notable work worthy of attention is the Society of Nations’s Grand Salon of the Ambassadors, which is located in Geneva.
He was one of the leaders of the Art Deco movement. Unlike most of his contemporaries, he didn’t win many awards or acquired much fame. But his career life lasted longer than those of his rivals. He first showcased his work at the Paris exposition held in 1925, and the term “Art Deco” was coined from there. The New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Arts bought one of his work during the exposition. Leleu was an introvert who preferred to let his work do the talking instead. His furniture and designs were made primarily from sleek and spare. He was very current in design ideas and creative thinking. He was also able to adapt to changing circumstances and constant changes that were prevalent in the industry during his time. After 1940, he quickly accepted many forms of modernism. Today, he still seen as the guiding light of modernism. His work is always a symbol of traditional craftwork and modern design.
Leleu died in Paris on July 11th, 1961. After his demise, his children took over the ownership of his business in France.