Born to a French father and a Swiss-German mother, Pierre Paulin (1927-2009) grew up in France, under the inspiration of his two uncles. His paternal uncle, Georges Paulin, invented the Eclipse mechanical folding roof system and, working with Peugeot, Bentley and Rolls Royce, provided a role model for creativity in business. His great uncle Freddy Stoll was a sculptor and instilled in a young Paulin the notion that an object should be beautiful from every angle.
Paulin studied in France – first ceramics in Vallauris and then stone-carving in Burgundy, intending to become a sculptor. Sadly, a severed tendon in his right arm put paid to his intentions to follow in his great uncle’s footsteps. He then enrolled at the École Camondo design school in Paris, where a teacher urged him to join furniture designer Marcel Gascoin’s workshop. He served as an apprentice and learned his trade before travelling to Scandinavia and the United States. He cited Ray and Charles Eames and George Nelson among his influences and, like Nelson, considered himself a functionalist who added “two little drops of poetry” to his work.