The Francis Files
Art Hearts: Paule Marrot's Natural Curiosities
July 12, 2023 - Written by Kevin O'Gara
Paule Marrot was a French artist (and all-around creative) whose trailblazing career spanned over six decades. Marrot's distinctive artistic style, unique collaboration with a worldwide automaker, and enduring impact as a female creative have cemented her legacy as an icon in the art and design community. Even if you aren't familiar with her name – you'll probably recognize many of Marrot's popular prints featured in these images, she is definitely a designer favorite!
Shop Paule Marrot Art Prints
Paule Marrot was a teacher-turned-fabric designer, who's artistic career started when she sold a dress pattern and subsequently a fabric design to French fashion designer Paul Poiret. She was primarily a textile designer, but her distinctive painting style is characterized by vibrant colors, bold patterns, and a whimsical approach to depicting nature. Marrot's ability to seamlessly blend simplicity with sophistication, along with her unique use of patterns, made her work instantly recognizable. I've always been drawn to the approachable playfulness and spirited color palettes of Marrot's work.
Marrot's Les Tulipes fabric, shown above, was so popular that Jackie Kennedy designed an entire room around it in the White House – learn more about the fabric on Peak of Chic. Another variation of the pattern named Guermantes, with the addition of irises and daffodils, is featured as a wallpaper in the room below.
Beyond her accomplishments in textile design, Marrot's influence extended to industrial design. In the 1950s, she partnered with the legendary automobile manufacturer Renault, breaking barriers as a female designer in a predominantly male-dominated industry. Marrot's ingenious use of color and pattern transformed the interiors of Renault cars, injecting her signature saturated colors to car paint and interior finishes. The car colorways had incredible names too, such as Rouge Montijo, Jaune Bahamas, Bleu Hoggar and Blanc Réja. She even designed the hood and steering wheel emblem for the Dauphine, which depicted three dolphins with a crown above.
Marrot's legacy is expansive, and her designs have been licensed to brands as far-ranging as Nike to Anthropologie (read more about the latter on Apartment Therapy, although it's sadly no longer available from AnthroLiving. While you might be familiar with her work in these settings, her work with Renault was such a wonderful relevation for me – and a great example of the power of a creative collaboration between seemingly disparate industries. I've wondered how car interiors would look from an interiors-perspective...