Jules Leleu (1883–1961) is a grandfather to the art deco design movement. Along with Ivan Da Silva Bruhns, Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann and his daughter Paule Leleu, Jules Leleu helped make art deco one of the most fashionable trends as well as one of the earliest art movements focusing on modernism and minimalism. Jules Leleu is known primarily as a sculptor and great designer; however, he also founded an influential design firm that would shape a new style.
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Leleu trained at the Academe des Beaux Arts in his hometown of Boulogne-sur-Mer, but his career began when he inherited his father’s painting business at age 26. Together with his brother, Jules Leleu opened one of the most fashionable furniture studios in Paris, dedicated entirely to a new type of decor. The designer’s success was solidified at the prestigious International Exposition of Decorative Arts in 1925 where his firm’s stylish interior took the top prize.
As chief rug designer for the firm, Ivan Da Silva Bruhns was instrumental in making Leleu’s carpets an essential part of modern decor. By 1936, Paule Leleu (1906–1987) took over the position. Building on Bruhns’ success, Paule produced a number of award-winning designs in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s that were knotted by hand domestically. As a product of the early 20th century art movement and her father’s strong design sense, Paule extracted the essence of art deco and continued her father’s design legacy.
Just as art deco furnishings from the Leleu firm have exceptional geometry and sleek lines, Paule Leleu’s art deco carpets distill shapes and linear motifs to their simplest and most powerful form. Jules Leleu and his creative family represent the height of art deco style as well as the beginning of minimalism and a new era of 20th century design.
Art Deco Rugs by Famed French Design firm Leleu at Nazmiyal
Leleu is an interior design firm, named for the family who founded it. It was one of the most prominent and well-respected design houses of the 20th century.
From furniture design to textiles and beautiful rugs, Leleu was known for its chic and modern creations. The Nazmiyal Collection is thrilled to announce the addition of three Leleu rugs to our collection.
The House of Leleu rose to prominence during the early years of the 20th century, starting in 1909, when Jules Leleu took over his father’s painting company. Jules had been educated at the Beaux-Arts de Bologne, as well as the Gildas School of Applied Arts in Brussels, and had grand plans for the family business. Shortly after assuming his role at the company, Jules added a cabinet making department, which would produce the first furniture designs of the firm.
After serving in the French military during World War I, Jules returns to the family business with a renewed interest in furniture design, and decides to make weekly trips to Paris to keep in touch with the most modern ideas passing through the design showcases in the capital city.
In the years of the 1920’s, Mr. Leleu’s designs gained popularity through their exhibition in Parisian design fairs, and the Leleu firm began to build its client base, enabling the company to establish its first atelier in the city.
In the years that followed, the Leleu design firm gained popularity, respect, and prominent clients in both Europe and the United States, and won many awards for its decoration and design services. As the years passed, the children of Jules Leleu — a daughter, Paule, and two sons, Andre and Jean — would join and expand the family’s business. It was Paule Leleu who established the company’s rug and carpet department in 1935.
Modern fine rug making was a difficult market during this time, as many still favored traditional oriental carpets over the new “art deco” styles. However, Paule was firm in her devotion to contemporary styles, and believed that the modern furniture her family was producing deserved to sit atop equally modern carpeting.
Paule Leleu designed her carpets with her family’s furniture in mind, which meant that when paired together in the Leleu’s design projects, they created a cohesive and thoroughly modern effect.
Paule Leleu had a passion and deep respect for the creation of carpets, and she spoke often of their importance to creating a pleasing atmosphere, and of their ability to add focus and mood to interior spaces.
With Paule at the helm, the carpets created at the Leleu firm became known for their elegance, their modernity, and their crispness of form and line.
Leleu rugs were often very geometric, in keeping with the trends of the art deco movement, and later, the futuristic designs of the mid-20th century. While the large medallions and ornate florals of oriental carpets went out of vogue at the onset of many mid-20th century interior design trends, the all-over rug design patterns, simple borders, and smart geometry of Leleu rugs made them extremely popular with fashionable clients in Europe and America.
Further, the Leleu Firm used a palette of elevated neutrals in their carpet designs — colors like burnt umber and sienna, moss green, charcoal, and rust — colors that remain classic staples of modern interior decorating today.
The smart design sense and eye for color that blessed the Leleu family is the firm’s lasting legacy.
Even over fifty years later, the carpets and rugs created by Paule Leleu look elegantly modern — they have proven themselves to be timeless pieces of design. Nazmiyal is thrilled to acquire three of these wonderful Leleu rugs, which in addition to being beautiful, symbolize an important era in French design history.
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View our current selection of Leleu rugs and carpets below: