Women who inspire women

CLEW asks women worth noticing in Luxembourg to choose a woman in public life who is an inspiration to them – in their work, in their life.

Anna Loporcaro chooses Andrée Putman

Anna Loporcaro. Photo credit:  Benjamin Mathia

Anna Loporcaro. Photo credit: Benjamin Mathia

Anna Loporcaro was born in Luxembourg in 1977. Following studies in Art History and Visual Arts in Brussels, she joined the Mudam – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean – in 2005. Today, she is in charge of artistic events.

Wishing to extend the field of visual arts, she is particularly interested in fashion and design creators. She was also behind Design City in Luxembourg, and she curates solo exhibitions. Anna regularly invites young creators, DJs, musicians, actors, poets and artists to perform in the museum.

She has twice been member of the jury for the Dynamo Award, a prize for new Belgian design, and is also a consultant for independent galleries and designers.


Andrée Putman was an internationally renowned interior and product designer, born in Paris’ 6th arrondissement in 1925. She died in the same city and the same arrondissement in January this year.

A young girl, she rebelled against her bourgeois family and abandoned her strict piano and composition studies to follow her creative instincts and her yearning for freedom and independence. Working for magazines such as Elle and L’Oeil, she got in touch with the world of design and innovation, revealed a sharp eye for it, and met artists whom she was drawn to. Every day on her way to work she would walk by the Café Flore and spot Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Juliette Greco… people who seemed as free and unconventional as she longed to be.

Knowing what it’s like to feel trapped in conventions, she sought to help artists who were not understood, and she is associated with among others Alberto Giacometti, Niki de Saint Phalle and Bram van Velde. Later she helped designers such as Issey Miyake and Thierry Mugler get their breakthrough.

When she became an interior designer, it was with a wish to “design beautiful things for nothing” and make art and design available to more people. Andrée Putman was almost 60 when she reached international fame after transforming the Morgans Hotel in New York on a small budget. She went on to do hotels in Germany, Japan and France, high end stores such as Guerlain on Champs-Elysées, offices, museums and private residences in New York, Tel Aviv and Tangier. In her work, she combined expensive and cheap materials and used light and space in unconventional ways.

“I loathe pompous luxury. I take interest in the essential, the framework, the basic elements.” As a product designer – whether for Christofle or Veuve Cliquot –  she loved to add an element of humour in the name or the design itself.

As late as in 2008, aged 82, she became President of the first Paris Design Comity, designed a grand piano for Pleyel and fashion designer Anne Fontaine’s New York store. She won several prestigious prizes and awards, and putmanesque has become an adjective.

Andrée Putman. Photo by Serge Lutens

Andrée Putman. Photo by Serge Lutens

When did you first learn about her or become inspired by her?

I was around 23 years old when I first smelled one of her perfumes, thinking she was a fashion designer. A bit later I realized that she was a space/object designer and discovered the diversity of her work.

Why and how has she inspired you?

I studied Art History and not design, but I’ve always been attracted by design, and I learned what I know about it after my studies. just by reading and traveling to design fairs. I now try to bring design exhibitions to Luxembourg without being a specialist or a real design critic. This links me to Andrée Putman, who was originally a musician and didn’t do any design or art studies, but had this immense feeling for beauty and simplicity which I hope one day I will get.

In her young years, she was not confident enough to fully express herself, but her grandma told her that if she didn’t want to be a musician, and without any other studies, she should become “a messenger”. That’s what she did through her design pieces, and that’s also what we try to do through our exhibitions at the museum.

What do you think is or will be her legacy?

A range of beautiful objects and well imagined spaces without pretense and with great humility.

Anna Loporcaro interviewed by Unni Holtedahl, October 2013. Andrée Putman bio by CLEW.

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