Recognized as a designer of bookcovers, Pierre Legrain became the first collaborator of Paul Iribe who was arranging the apartment of Jacques Doucet. It was Doucet who, in 1917, charged Legrain with the job of recovering some original and contemporary manuscripts in his celebrated library.
Through his meeting with Doucet, Legrain came in contact with artists like Picasso, Derain and Brancusi who in turn influenced Legrain by familiarizing him with African art and Cubism. Because of these influences, Legrain is considered one of the most uncommon artists of the Art Deco period.
Legrain’s furniture can be considered within two different genres. Some fall under the first category of extreme architectural rigor, a rigor not outside of any research of decoration or even certain luxury: often unique models, rare and precious materials, and vibrant, contrasting colors. In this vein, Legrain worked independently, outside of any school of furniture making.
The second side of Legrain’s production comes from Ecuador and the Tropics, despite the underlying influence of Cubism. Through their form and decor, his furniture and seats evoke the crude art of idols and objects from North Africa. This furniture of massive and robust nature was hewn from exotic woods like ebony or palm to which Legrain added unusual materials like leather, parchment, canvas, mother-of-pearl or metal.
Cf. P. KJELLBERG, Art Déco, Les maîtres du mobilier, Le décor des paquebots, Ed. de l’Amateur, Paris, 2000, p. 149 à 152.