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Forward-thinker. A pioneer.Born into a modest family in Beauvais in 1937, Jean-Claude Decaux began working at the age of 16 putting up posters to promote his parents’ store and other local businesses. Although at 18 he was still a minor (the age of majority in France then was 21), he asked to be emancipated and he set up his own company, in 1955.
I never envisaged working for anyone other than myself because I had an impossible temperament!Jean-Claude Decaux
Persuasive. A conqueror.Louis Pradel, the Mayor of Lyon (France), liked his idea and his energy and was the first to grant him a contract for the installation and maintenance of 40 bus shelters. His business was underway, but the risk was huge.
I don’t sell square metres, I sell spaces that are clean and well-lit.Jean-Claude DecauxOn the subject of the 2m² format which he created
Innovative. A visionary.By always thinking of how best to serve the user first, he invented the smart city concept before its time. From the 1970s, in order to improve the quality of life and the visual amenity of cities, Jean-Claude Decaux began to create street furniture that would enhance everyday life: sign posts, street furniture displaying information, electronic information panels, automatic public toilets.
Outdoor advertising can only last if it offers two services, one is the provision of information to the public, and the second is the bus shelter service, or the telephone kiosk service, or any other service that I may not have imagined but that my colleagues or rivals might imagine.Jean-Claude Decaux1977 interview
Aesthete. A passionate man.Keen on creating an attractive urban environment, from the 1990s he began to work with some of the world’s most prestigious architects and designers, including Jean-Michel Wilmotte, Norman Foster, Philip Cox, Martin Szekely, Mario Bellini, Philippe Starck and Patrick Jouin, to give true significance and an aesthetic quality to street furniture.
My whole career has been driven by a constant desire for excellence, a strong emphasis on design, and an obsession with always, always using our advertising-based business to serve the community.Jean-Claude DecauxForeword of the book "JCDecaux - 50 years of passion and innovation"
Jean-Claude Decaux passed on his values and expertise to his sons and to his 12,850 employees, who in 78 countries, 4,435 cities, more than 230 airports and 280 transport companies worldwide, now work to continue his entrepreneurship in line with his founding principles.