Address given by Frédéric Mitterrand on the occasion of the award ceremony to Claude LEVY-SOUSSAN (Officer of the Order of the Legion of Honour)

Dear Claude Lévy-Soussan,

«Let’s not talk about styles, modern or old, style is the event» stressed Le Corbusier. Dear Claude Levy-Soussan, you have grasped in flight the revolution of forms instilled by design in our daily lives, “this way of improving lifestyles and of conceiving the relationship of individuals with their environment”, to use the expression of Elsa Francès, the director of the Cité du Design.

In this area, it is true that France probably had some catching up to do with the British, Italian and Scandinavian scene, where there had been more enlightened relations between designers and industry than elsewhere. A great deal has been accomplished since then, thanks in particular to the City of Design of Saint Etienne, thanks to the dynamism of the Museum of Decorative Arts where we find ourselves, whose exhibitions are always dazzling, like the one dedicated to Marteen Baas. But certainly, this was made possible also thanks to certain personalities like that of Claude Lévy-Soussan, who worked throughout his career to promote not only the discovery in France of international designers like Charles Eames, Poul Kjaerholm, or Marco Zanuso, but also to recognize the work of our own French designers.

A graduate of HEC «young girls», you are starting your career as Managing Director of the Mobilier International group, a group that manufactures and distributes contemporary furniture. Your status as creative manager and director of the three Parisian stores allows you to promote to the general public collections and industrial versions of furniture created by international designers then little known in France, like Oscar Niemeyer or Bruno Mathsson.

Your desire to develop links between French manufacturers and designers leads you to found in 1977 the association for the Valorization of Innovation in Furniture (VIA), supported by the Ministry of Industry, which helped to promote the design applied to the objects of the living environment. Today, VIA continues to contribute to the creation process through “project aids”, “white cards” and “specific calls” that highlight the work of Elizabeth Garouste, Pierre Charpin, Andrée Putman, Philippe Starck and Jean-Michel Wilmotte.

In 1980, you took the lead of Castelli France SA, one of the European leaders of Italian origin in the market of office furniture and collectivities. You support the creations of Giancarlo Piretti, Charles Pollock or Richard Sapper and thus shape the brand image of this distribution network.

Four years later, it is as CEO of the Agora gallery that you pursue your specialization in design. You then co-publish with the Maison Hermès the furniture of the architect Rena Dumas and you publish some «great» French as Gérard Gallet, Jean-Pierre Vitrac and Maurice Legendre. And of course, you found this Agora award with Alain Lardet, who has been honoring young designers' projects for 18 years.

Your collaboration and friendship will also be at the origin of the very fruitful «Designer’s Days» in Paris, which celebrated their eleventh edition this year, and which undoubtedly remain one of the most important international showcases of design, not only for their creativity but also in terms of economic weight.

Then you become a marketing consultant for contemporary cultural goods, and you work with the Reunion of National Museums and the Metropolitan Museum of New York on the establishment of their joint shop under the Louvre Pyramid, as well as with other museums on the same principle of opening shops «Museums and Creation».

Finally, you will find a new centre of management within the CRAFT, Centre de Recherche pour les arts du Feu et de la Terre, which combines eco-design and regional ceramics industry. We recently presented in the peristyle and gallery windows of Valois collections specifically from CRAFT.

You have also put your experience to the benefit of many juries of art schools, and also as a member of the advisory committee responsible for the purchase of designs and models of contemporary furniture for the workshops of the Mobilier National.

For your spirit of discovery, for all the energy you put into showcasing the creation and new talents of design, dear Claude Lévy-Soussan, on behalf of the President of the Republic, and by virtue of the powers vested in us, We make you an Officer of the Legion of Honor.