Born in 1908, the French designer attended the Ecole nationale superieure des Arts Décoratifs for a couple of years until, in 1927, he entered the atelier of the famous glassmaker Jacques Gruber, known since the time of Art Nouveau for its extraordinary polychrome stained glass windows. This apprenticeship was fundamental to give him the basis to focus on what would initially be his specialty, the stained glass windows, a field in which he would have achieved international fame.He opens an independent activity in Paris together with his first wife Paule Rouquie, creating works of a religious, mythological and interior decoration nature, using crystal panels engraved through refined sandblasting processes, etching with the addition of silver and gold plating. The work of Paule and Max Ingrand in the glass field had already been noticed by Gio Ponti in the mid-thirties, enough to dedicate an article to it on “Domus” in 1936, the year in which some of their works are presented at the Milan Triennale. Among the most important works of this period the furnishing of the great salons of the Normandie ocean liner which was destroyed in a fire in the port of New York in 1942; the interventions in the Royal Palace of Romania in Bucharest and the decorated mirror ceilings in the villa of Baron Empain in Brussels. After the Second World War, with his second wife Ingrand moved to Neuilly-sur-Seine, continuing to work with the Parisian studio which, expanded on a project by the architect Pierre Vago, and came to extend to an area of 800 square meters and to make work up to fifty workers. Over time, the interests of Ingrand were widening, particularly towards the field of lighting and furnishings, producing small series lamps or on specific orders, mirrors with thick crystals treated as precious stones, screens and tables with luminous tops. In 1954 Ingrand was appointed Artistic Director of Fontana Arte, a decision strongly encouraged by Gio Ponti and the architect Pierre Vago, seeing in him the perfect heir of Pietro Chiesa. Shifting between her highly-trained studio in Paris and Milan, Ingrand began to substantially modify Fontana Arte’s production choices, updating them to those that were emerging as new market needs, without betraying the typological and qualitative characteristics that had made the company famous in the world.It was above all the lighting sector that was increased with the inclusion of cutting-edge models that wisely used crystal combined with brass and aluminum, with a progressive abandonment of wood. Only a few models of lamps appeared in the Fontana catalogs (the famous “Quaderni”) with the declared authorship of Max Ingrand, as in the case of the famous lamp-sculpture, model no. 2533, or the timeless lamp with opal diffuser base, mod. n. 1853, still in production.The mirrors were very successful, embellished with thick crystal elements, sometimes cut like gems, or with “torn” edges, a type of rough finish which, however, enhanced the reflective qualities of the glass; or the large chandeliers with curved crystal elements, the “Dahlia”, which were the leit-motif of the luxury furnishings of the fifties and sixties, a variant, to an exceptional extent, was presented at the Universal Exposition in Brussels in 1958.In 1955, the two stores of Fontana Arte in Milan and Rome were renovated, under the direction of Ingrand, particularly the one in via Montenapoleone presented a set-up solution based on the regular sequence of large mirrors that illusorily dilated the perception of spaces; solution that will then be adopted for the Fontana Arte exhibition space at the 1958 Milan Fair. In the 1960s, Ingrand focused on interior architecture with prestigious assignments such as the hall of the RTF (French Radio Television), the Peugeot Palace, the Rond-Pint fountains on the Champs Elysée in Paris. After leaving Fontana Arte in 1967 he continued his activity with his Parisian studio and with the new company “Verre Lumiére”, in partnership with the Saint-Gobain manufacture and the Mazda lamp factory. Ingrand died in Neuilly on August 25, 1969.
“Excerpt from F. Deboni, Fontana Arte. Gio Ponti, Pietro Chiesa, Max Ingrand”, Allemandi, Torino 2012