Address by Frédéric Mitterrand, Minister of Culture and Communication, on the occasion of the ceremony for the presentation of the insignia of Officer of the National Order of Merit to Colette Kerber, Knight of the National Order of Merit to Pierre Perrigault, Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters to Jean-Paul Goude, Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters to Jean-Marie Périer and Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters to Maria Pergay.

Dear Colette Kerber,

Between the Marais and the Centre Pompidou, there is a temple for those who like to read. «Les Cahiers de Colette» is one of those places where the atmosphere, the welcome, the presentation, the choice of the books remind us of all the force of attraction, of incentive to the discovery that represents a bookshop.

This unique place, dear Colette Kerber, is yours. Since 1986, after studying law, travelling, meetings, an art gallery on rue Beaubourg, you change your audience, and you decide to put yourself at the service of readers in search of authors. Things end better than at Pirandello, since readers leave «Les Cahiers de Colette» always happy, surprised for those who do not know you by the generosity of your welcome, by the relevance and enthusiasm of your wise reading advice. One of your joys is also to see the young people entering your bookstore, who used to go to it for their school duties, and who now come to stroll there for their personal taste.

In the Colette Notebooks, we also welcome authors. And not least. Christian Bobin and Michel Houellebecq established their first direct contacts with their readers. Les Cahiers de Colette is the bookshop at the service of contact and encounter, of a certain human warmth, of the village where the clienteles cross that go from the assiduous reader to the passing of the Sunday afterat noon, drawn by this abundant literary offer in such a small place. Les Cahiers de Colette or the art of stock, as François Bon put it.
Since its original 20m², your bookstore has fortunately had the opportunity to expand. I understand that your latest extension was made to replace a clothing shop: I would like to see it with you as a sign of a reconquest of our city centers by readers! You are certainly not of those who believe in the end of the book, and the advent of digital books and readers does not necessarily represent a threat to you. You believe in the power of mediation, prescription, personalized advice, contact, which a reader will not replace.

For your exemplary success, for your reflection, my ministry regularly asks you to represent the profession. You have thus become a member of the Council of the Order of Arts and Letters, where you have shown remarkable commitment since 2003. You also sit on the jury of the Grand Prix National des lettres, and the Grand Prix National de poésie, and you also participated in the Grand Prix de la Ville de Paris. You are also involved in the work of the commissions «classical literature» and «aids to booksellers abroad» of the Centre National des Lettres.

More recently, at my request, you have agreed to take part, along with five other personalities, in a mission of reflection and proposals for the future of the bookshop, in the extension of the book council of 14 December last, to maintain and develop a network of bookstores as dense and diverse as possible throughout the territory. Given the concerns of the profession, your views will be invaluable to us.

For the commitment with which you carry the profession of bookseller for twenty-five years, for your generosity, dear Colette Kerber, on behalf of the President of the Republic, we make you an Officer of the National Order of Merit.

Dear Pierre Perrigault,

“My vocation was not to create but to promote creation,” you say. You play an essential role in France for the recognition of contemporary design and furniture, and this for more than fifty years. Humility, rigour and passion characterize you and it is with a sure judgment that with your gallery «Furniture and Function», you have participated, by your aesthetic choices, to renew the art of the habitat and the interiors. Functionalism, design and mass production. Three ideas, three choices that have defined you since the late 1950s.

The creators of the end of the war want furniture for all, serial furniture for everyday use. You put yourself at his service. You are not only the “promoter of modern furniture”, as you most often define yourself, but also the French “bon génie” of contemporary furniture.

Because it was in 1959, after having been a dealer in Lyon at Knoll, that you created with your wife and with Etienne Fermigier, who is also your fellow promoter of the Ecole Boulle, the Galerie «Meubles et Fonction». In your early days, it is your own creations that you propose to disseminate; today the style of your gallery has become a signature in itself, very popular in sales rooms. This signature is that of the essential piece of furniture, the right piece of furniture, in harmony with its time, the materials, the techniques used, but also with the evolution of lifestyles. To be as fair as possible, to abandon oneself from the superfluous, to go in search of the formal, clear expression and the functionality of a piece of furniture, this has always been your requirement.

It is in this process that you have surrounded yourself with designers, architects and industrialists, who share your belief that for a piece of furniture to be timeless, it must be formally necessary. You are the discoverer in France of many designers, including the great Scandinavian designers, like Arne Jacobsen, Verner Panton, Poul Kjaerholm, Italians like Alberto Meda, Riccardo Blumer, but also French designers like Pierre Paulin, Etienne Fermigier or Olivier Mourgue. In this regard, you worked on the discovery in France of Pierre Paulin whose armchair Orange Slice is a flagship piece of French design, who was at the time freelance designer for the house Artifort in the Netherlands.

«Furniture and Function», these are also events, scenography, collective moments that help strengthen the links between designers, industrialists and publishers. The interior design and architecture community, as well, knows everything they owe you.

You had asked Pierre Paulin to design a set for you in relation to the furniture he had designed. The display case of «Furniture and Function» served as a prototype for the apartments of the Elysée that Paulin then realized for President Pompidou.

It is now your daughter Cécile and her husband Jacques, to whom you have entrusted the next generation, who look after the Furniture and Function Gallery, this unique place of synthesis between industrial culture and creation.

Two years ago, the Musée des Arts décoratifs paid you a tribute - more than deserved - with «Pierre Perrigault, un passion, une donation», an exhibition with 22 rooms that retraced the plot of your adventure and the decisive role you played in the recognition of furniture in France.

Apart from your gallery, you were Honorary President of the Association for the Development of Design from 1989 to 1992; you are also a founding member of the Centre de création industrielle, founder of Designer’s Saturday and vice-president of the Salon des Artistes Décorateurs.

With «Furniture and Function», you have written an essential page for the promotion of design and the great designers of recent decades.

Dear Pierre Perrigault, on behalf of the President of the Republic, we make you a knight of the National Order of Merit.

Dear Jean-Paul Goude,

Jean-Paul Goude, you play with our imagination as a magician – choreographer and draftsman, storyteller and graphic designer, humorist and draftsman, illustrator, photographer, director, director, advertising designer and “terrible child” forever.

Your images tell the story of energy and life. They rustle with rubbing fabrics, champagne, parties and bursts of laughter, high heels and broken glasses, opera tunes and roaring animals.

Grace Jones with her brush cut, Vanessa Paradis in small bird of charm, Laetitia Casta in mutinous heroine, Farida Khelfa, Karen “the Joan of Arc of Seoul”… So many muses that passed before your objectives. And then we drank Perrier, we looked at the Dim legs of the girls in the wind, we smelled Chanel 5 or Coco in the wake of blondes and brunettes in cages, we devoured Lindt chocolate while listening to Swan Lake, we shouted «Egoist» In a rather dramatic dispute when we slammed the hotel shutters, we put elves in our Kodak photographs, sang the Marseillaise with Jessye Norman, drove through the desert in Citroën and jumped into Lee Cooper jeans…

In Saint Mandé, an Irish-American dancer, your mother who recently left you, introduces you to dance and the world of music halls. You will then discover the dancer and choreographer Jean Babilée who will be a great source of inspiration for you. From then on, from your drawings of children to today, you track the energy, the right gesture, the bounding choreography and the rapidity.

After studying at the School of Decorative Arts, you become the illustrator of the Men’s Spring store. With the confidence of its director Harold Haynes, artistic director of the famous Esquire magazine, your New York adventure begins, and you also work as a collaborator of the New York magazine.

A few scissors, shoulders under the shirt, heel shoes or even a pair of oversized «platform shoes»: you invent the «French correction». Andy Warhol sees it as a matter of creating a clinic to magnify the bodies… But you are embarking on other projects. This is where the muses of the world come in. Coming from Africa, the Maghreb or Asia, Pygmalion turns them into generational icons, helping them, I quote, “to reach the summit of their personality”. The Museum of Decorative Arts is paying tribute today, with the exhibition «Goudemalion» since November, to your work staged by these extraordinary muses: Grace Jones, Farida Khelfa, Radiah Frye, Toukie, Karen…

Farida will become the face of Azzedine Alaïa. Karen, the mother of two of your children. “For Grace Jones,” who is also the mother of your son Polo, you say, “I decided to put all the paradoxes of the world into practice.” A tiger cage where the fox disappears with a power cut, replaced by Grace Jones, chewing a piece of meat.

And of course, it is to you that President François Mitterrand and his minister Jack Lang entrust in 1989 the monumental conception of the parade on the Champs Elysées on the occasion of the Bicentenary of the French Revolution, which we all still remember and which will forever seal your popularity as a creator.

A creator who loves self-portraits in short pants and in a bellhop jacket, sometimes illustrator, from advertising to fashion, sometimes writing his feature film, always in rhythm and music: a creator whom France always loves a little more every year.

Dear Jean-Paul Goude, on behalf of the French Republic, we make you Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters.

Dear Jean-Marie Périer,

«With a simple click, by a simple intuition, Jean-Marie Périer fixed the dream forever» - this is one of the great personalities whose portrait you will have made: Patrick Modiano.

From the posters of the magazine Salut les copains to the exhibitions dedicated to you, there are two families around you.

The first is yours, where you meet dynasties of actors. With your mother, Jacqueline Porel – herself the daughter of Réjane, who inspired Proust’s portrait of Berma in the Recherche -, and your father, François Périer, the world of cinema, theatre and literature is part of your entourage at the age when you played the piano, in pyjamas, in front of Yves Montand, Louis Jouvet, Sacha Guitry, Humphrey Bogart and Pierre Brasseur.

The other family comes later: it is your siblings of heart. Sylvie, Jojo, Schmoll and his Chaussettes noires, the Beatles, Claude François, Jacques Dutronc, Sheila. A plethora straight out of Salut les copains, whose creator and your spiritual father, Daniel Filipacchi, must be mentioned here.
A few years before the creation of the mythical radio show and its magazine, Daniel Filipacchi, then only a freelancer, photographer and animator of the daily For those who love jazz of Europe 1, hired you in 1956 as an assistant. By creating Salut les copains, young listeners are suddenly valued, considered, respected. As for the magazine, it is an immediate success. «Manage to make the photos displease the parents», you intimate Daniel. It is with energy and a certain tenderness, with humour and complicity, that you photograph these aspiring stars, who are 20 years old like you. You start an album of the sixties whose thousands of photos are visual memory.

Sylvie Vartan grazing a poster by Johnny; Michel Polnareff, all surprised to be caught in flagrant childish drift while riding a bike inside an office; James Brown at the foot of his private plane, black suit of rigor and look of conqueror; Alain Delon, of course, whose misguided pout still keeps coming back on our screens and in our newspapers for the cause of a perfume that wants to tell what is indomitable in man; Mick Jagger, whom you went so far as to plunge into a milk-milkshake, which always seems to have a lot of fun with each session with you. At Jean-Marie Périer, it is complicity that does everything.

Among all these personalities, there is obviously one that is particularly dear to you, and to which you recently dedicated a sober work entitled Françoise. The one who made all the boys of her age love and who never ceased to demonstrate her talent and the extreme sensitivity of her writing, was your favorite model, and the one you most loved.

Hi buddies stops in 1974. You leave for the United States where you will reside for more than ten years. After having already directed several feature films such as Tumuc Humac with your brother Marc Porel and Dani, Antoine and Sébastien, the leading role of Jacques Dutronc, and Dirty Dreamer, always with Dutronc, you launch into «made in USA» commercials. Camel, Canada Dry, Bic, Ford and Coca Cola are the subject of some 600 advertising spots that you direct with talent and humour.

Back in France in 1990, you find photography with the magazines Elle, the Figaro Magazine and Paris Match. In the world of fashion, it is Saint-Laurent, Tom Ford, Christian Lacroix, Gaultier and Alaïa, in full creative abundance, that give you the opportunity to reconnect with the spirit of freedom and fantasy that is so dear to you. With humour, you capture by photomontage the whole big fashion family.
The one that François Weyergans has nicknamed «Proust des yé-yé», exhibited all over the world, continues to amaze us, because he keeps with him, in the magnificent campaign of the Aveyron that adopted him, the secret of images that know how to reflect something other than themselves.

Dear Jean-Marie Périer, on behalf of the French Republic, we make you an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters.

Dear Maria Pergay,

Maria Pergay, or when steel becomes an alloy of luxury and beauty.

Assembled with semi-precious materials, exotic woods, warm colors, natural elements, steel enters into dialogue. Stainless, bright, reflective, steel allows you to soften the shapes of furniture that you sometimes find too rigid, offering them undulating curves. Malleable, it becomes, in your hands, matter to dreams.

You train at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Cinématographiques, while taking sculpture classes with the great Ossip Zadkine. While you have just married Marc Pergay, you decorate the window of the shoemaker Durer with large wrought iron birds. This order was a huge success and creates a name that is immediately appreciated by the big luxury houses. Dior, Hermès or Hugonet call on you to rethink their windows like windows on their imagination. Semi-precious stones, lamps, giant ammonite-shaped coffee table, the radiant stems of the Oursin sculpture, all impressive compositions that populate your orders, like the ones you made for the baron and baroness Gourgaud for their residence in southern Corsica in the 1970s - a villa that, thanks to you, has become a masterpiece of design and interior decoration, for which you have favored combinations of matter and simple forms.

You open your own store Place des Vosges to exhibit and sell your own creations. After creating a collection of silver objects, you meet Salvador Dalí with whom you realize the myth of the butterfly and fire, reconciling ancient and modern forms and revisiting ancient myths. For you, stainless steel is “as precious as the most precious wood”.

Your first collection, Anneaux chairs and Vague benches, was presented in 1968 at the Maison et Jardin gallery, then directed by decorator Jean Dive. A few years later, you meet Pierre Cardin, whom your works captivate: he becomes your patron. From then on, your name is exported to the United States, Morocco, Russia or Saudi Arabia, where you decorate the palace of the royal family, as well as many villas.

In 2008, the exhibition dedicated to your new collection at the Galerie Jean-Gabriel Mitterrand, gave us the opportunity to rediscover your Ribbon Chair, as well as works like Kimono or your Victoire de Samothrace, where you revisit the most varied legacies.

Maria Pergay is also the Broken cubes, as if blown by an explosive whose torn steel sheet lets see the burning heat of wood inside, or the playful Pouf Ruban, the Skull Scones lamps. So many cult creations for all lovers and professionals of French design.

Steel that magnifies mother-of-pearl, wood or bronze, stainless steel at the service of the refinement and sensuality of furniture, objects, interiors: you have brought to the world of design a fundamental reverie on matter and elements.

Dear Maria Pergay, on behalf of the French Republic, we make you a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters.