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In 1970, two airport experts – architect Paul Andreu and interior designer Joseph-André Motte – reinvented the Paris metro platform with a design that really took off.
Hector Guimard’s Art Nouveau entrances in 1900 set the Paris Metro on a one-way track to cutting-edge design. The “Andreu-Motte” style appeared in the 1970s after the first moon landing on July 21,1969. New developments in transportation were appearing, and urban design entered a ‘space’ age complete with curves, bright colors and … enamel molded seats.
In 1973 the RATP hired Paul Andreu (born in 1938), who had designed and built Charles de Gaulle and several other airports, and interior designer Joseph-André Motte (1925-2013), who designed the interior of Orly airport, to invent a new look for the network’s metro stations.
The most famous feature of Andreu-Motte interiors is the color scheme used to identify each station: the sculpted seats created by Motte were blue, yellow, red, green or orange. Made of enameled metal, they were installed on a tiled ledge in the same color. Long, incandescent light fixtures – also the same color – hung from the vaulted ceiling. The same white tiles were used except on tunnel entrance walls and passageways, which were sometimes decorated in the same dominant color scheme of the station, used to help commuters identify their surroundings more easily.
The Andreu-Motte model is still found in many stations. Once futuristic, it is now a relic of the past, and an easy way to travel through time. Even little ones can take the trip: the sculpted Motte seats in RER and metro stations provided inspiration for Lego toys!
Born in 1938, Paul Andreu is an engineer and graduate of the Ecole Polytechnique and Ecole des Ponts et Chaussées, as well as an architect and graduate of the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts.
His most famous works include Charles de Gaulle airport and its TGV-RER train station; airports in Abu Dhabi, Jakarta, Cairo, Dar Es Salaam, Brunei, Nice, Bordeaux, Pointe-à-Pitre; Kansai airport in Osaka Bay; the Arche de la Défense in Paris (designed by Otto von Spreckelsen, winner of the design competition), and the French terminus of the Channel Tunnel.
Designer, decorator and interior designer Joseph-André Motte (1925-2013) founded the ARP, a workshop for research on plastics, with Michel Mortier and Pierre Guariche in 1954. A furniture and lighting designer, Motte also took part in several interior design projects, including Orly airport, the Le Havre ferry terminal, and Grenoble City Hall. Materials were key to Motte in his effort to create practical and affordable furniture. He used formica, wood, stainless steel, and even rattan, out of which he made his first saucer-shaped chair – designed, he said, to fit any physique.