Sunday, January 3

Profile & Podcast: Pierre Frey Celebrates 75 Years

Patrick and Lorraine Frey with Pierre (front) and Vincent (back)

January 1st marked the 75th anniversary of the founding of the house of Pierre Frey. When I was last in New York I had the opportunity to spend time with Pierre Frey, named after his grandfather and the company founder, who is now in charge of the US subsidiary. We had a chance to talk about fabrics, design and the family's history. Listen here.

It is hard not to be smitten with the Pierre Frey showroom and the walls of exquisite fabric. After touring the showroom, I was fascinated to learn from Pierre of the company’s remarkable archival collection. Since 2003 more than 30,000 documents dating from the 16th century to the present day have been gathered in Paris where they can be searched by period, colour, motif and technique. It’s an extraordinary resource, which represents designs from the company’s four brands (Pierre Frey, Braquenié, fadini borgh, Boussac) along with a selection of rare pieces acquired at auction, from antique dealers and private collections.

Patrick and Pierre Frey

The Pierre Frey story is one of adventure and a self-made man. The founder, Pierre Frey, was born into a bourgeois family in Northern France in 1903 and grew up in an elegant world among music-lovers and antique dealers. When his parents’ fortunes suddenly took a turn for the worse, Pierre had to leave school and go to work. At the age of 16 he became an assistant in an antiques business on Place de la Madeleine, and on January 1st 1935 he set up his own business, creating Pierre Frey.

Of course war followed soon after, bringing difficult times, yet Pierre carried on working, making deliveries to his customers on his bicycle. Ambitious and dedicated in every sense of the word, Pierre built his success by blending passion, dedication and rigorous attention to detail.

Fortunately, Pierre’s only son, Patrick, shared his father’s passion for fabrics. Patrick also inherited a strong artistic instinct from his mother, a textile designer, and from his maternal grandfather René Prou – a renowned interior designer in the 1930s.

When Patrick joined the company he learned the ropes by working in all the departments. He became creative director of Pierre Frey in 1975 and Chairman in 1976. Since then he has personally approved every new fabric produced by the company – of which there are around 50 a year. Assisted by his wife Lorraine, who develops the company’s international profile, Patrick brings devotion, enthusiasm and intuition to the company his father founded.

It’s a wonderful story of passion, respect for the past, and vision for the future that spans three generations. Spend any time around this family and it is obvious that Patrick Frey, his wife Lorraine and his three sons, Pierre, Vincent and Matthieu, share a love of the family history, a passion for detail, a strong work ethic and enthusiasm for creativity. Here is to another 75 wonderful years.

Tomorrow I will profile Pierre Frey, the grandson and the man overseeing the US subsidiary.

Profile by Ronda Carman

14 comments:

Anne said...

Gorgeous fabrics. Love the accent too!

urban flea said...

such a wonderful brand and story... thanks so much for sharing it with us all!

xo katherine aka. urban flea :)

Mikey_davidh said...

I look forward to all my emails with posts from "All the Best". Congratulations on a successful year and on all the great posts. LOVE 'em.

Ideezine said...

The fact that so many fabrics have documentation makes them an art. There should be a degree program for the history of textile art in every design program to study. Fasinating!

Jan said...

I agree with Ideezine, what an impressive company.

Fifi Flowers said...

Oooh la la... LOVE that red and gold chair!!!

Kelly Green said...

I have used Pierre Frey in many of my projects and and they always look amazing. Smitten is an excellent word to describe how i feel about these beautiful designs. KG

Kris said...

As a designer I can also attest to the fabulousness that is known as Pierre Frey.

pve design said...

Tres magnifique! J'adore le collections of Pierre Frey.
I will dream of them for a French Country Home!
pve

mary said...

Being a textile addict, this is one of my favorites. Together with Heather's post of last September regarding her visit to the Pierre Frey Archives, this adds another level to my passion. Thanks.

misslikey said...

this is a great story. loving your blog

little augury said...

You are right-it is hard not to be smitten. PF's extensive library and archives are overwhelming,have always thought they presented the best of true documents and also a soft spot for the trade,great tools for the designer. There is a real desire for perfection and the family ownership has sustained that.There is a wonderful store on the couple in a elle decor just a year or 2 back. la

Jennifer said...

I LOVE the podcast! You come across as very warm and sincere, just as you do in your writing. Thanks for talking us behind the scenes.
Jennifer

Jaima Brown Emmert said...

I love Pierre Frey. They always come up with fabulous patterns...and as I am a fabric designer..I appreciate their sense of whimsical creativity and beauty they seem to mix so well. Jaima