The French designer and architect Charlotte Perriand (1903 – 1999) produced some very beautiful furniture and buildings, but she is probably not as well known as she should be, even despite the comprehensive retrospective show of her work at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2005. Above is a selection of pieces included in that show. Below is her most well-known piece, a bookcase co-designed with Jean Prouve, as well as many other designs. Perriand worked with Corbusier for 10 years, starting at age 24, on both furniture and architecture. How she came to work with him is a fascinating story:
A friend of hers introduced Perriand to the works of the famous French architect Le Corbusier, including L’art Decoratif d’Aujourd’hui (Today’s Decorative Arts). Inspired by his work, Perriand immediately applied for a design position at Le Corbusier’s atelier. She was dismissed with a condescending comment, “we don’t embroider cushions here.”
Undaunted, Perriand tore apart her garret-style apartment and converted one of the largest rooms into a metal and glass bar. Using her home as a canvas, she applied her ideas and continued to create metal tubular furniture out of chrome and aluminum for her “machine age interior.” By 1927, she designed enough work to be exhibited at the Salon D’Automne. Upon seeing her rooftop bar design and its furnishings, architect Le Corbusier changed his mind and decided to hire Perriand as furniture designer.
Perriand’s earlier pieces were often modular and efficient, almost futurist. Her early influences generally seem modernist while her later experiences in Japan introduced a different aesthetic, and you can see that in the red and black interior below, as well as in her use of paper and bamboo for lighting. She deserves to be better known for her buildings, which include the UN’s League of Nations in Geneva and the Les Arcs building in Switzerland, at bottom. The same goes for her furniture, though this may change now that Cassina is reissuing many of her pieces (she originally designed for Thonet). Philippe Delahautemaison has created a really good Flickr set of photos of her furniture and decor. More on Charlotte Perriand here and you can also read about her life and design at designboom. The Centre Pompidou’s link in French is here.
Above, cabinet by Perriand in 1939
“Bambou” lounge chair, above, 1940
Above, a chalet by Perriand in Savoie, France.
Above, Japanese inspired interior
Above, ‘refuge tonneau’, futuristic chalet
Building in Les Arcs, Switzerland. This is part of a larger project Perriand worked on collaboratively with Corbusier and others.
And see this amazing swing arm lamp at referencelibrary.
Tags: architecture, Bambou chair, Cassina, Charlotte Perriand, corbusier, design, furniture design, Geneva, League of Nations, Les Arcs, modern design, modernism, modernist, modernist architecture, Prouve, Refuge Tonneau, Savoie, Switerland, Thonet, twentieth century, UN, We don't embroider cushions here., women designers