Charlotte Perriand (1903 – 1999) was a designer and architect from France. Perriand’s designs are most commonly associated with furniture created in the 1920s in collaboration with Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret. Still, her contribution to design was much more critical.
In the early 1920s, she studied interior design at the École de l’Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. She was inspired by her teachers Maurice Dufrène and Paul Follot’s Art Deco aesthetic.
Association with Le Corbusier
Her exposure to Le Corbusier’s writings, on the other hand, changed her design perspectives significantly, resulting in her design of a rooftop bar that was shown at the Salon d’Automne in 1927. She went to Le Corbusier to ask for a job. He famously replied “We don’t embroider cushions here,” and showed her the door.
However, before leaving she had the courage to invite him to see her room at the Salon d’Automne. With a sleek semicircular built-in bar, bar stools, drink tables and most radical with all of it, even the wainscoting, sheathed in nickel-plated chrome. She was only 24. The next day, Le Corbusier went to see it and hired her. She not only worked on the now-classic furniture with him and Jeanneret but also designed interiors for his atelier for 10 years. She left to go out on her own in 1937.
Her realistic understanding of architecture and materials like tubular steel aided in the realisation of Le Corbusier’s concepts in pieces like the Grand Confort armchair and the B306 chaise longue. After striking out on her own in 1937, she was asked to advise the Japanese Ministry of Commerce and Industry on industrial arts and design in 1940.
Tradition, Selection, and Development, a vital exhibition she organised in Tokyo in 1941, featured work influenced by Japanese arts and crafts. It was the culmination of her tireless and passionate research through which she engaged with artisans from traditional to modern designers. Natural materials including wood and bamboo were used extensively in the show, a total departure from the style she established at Le Corbusier’s atelier. Since many of the items were not appropriate for mass production, some Japanese saw the show as primitive and unprogressive, even though they wanted to step beyond those materials. She returned to Japan in 1955 for a second exhibition, “Proposition d’une synthèse des arts” (“Proposal for a Synthesis of the Arts”), despite the negative reactions.
Perriand kept in touch with old friends like Prouvé, Le Corbusier, and Jeanneret while building new relationships with people like Fernand Léger, Brazilian architect Lúcio Costa, and Hungarian architect Ernö Goldfinger.
Design of unadorned rustic lodges in the French Alps (1938), kitchen designs for Unité d’Habitation in Marseille (1950) and Tokyo (1959), and commercial interiors for Air France in London were just a few of the projects (1958). The ski resort of Les Arcs in Savoy (1967–85), her final and largest project, brought together her work and the landscape she remembered fondly from her childhood. Perriand’s rich contribution to the profession is exemplified by these designs, which illustrate the calibre, merit, and durability of her work.
Charlotte Perriand. (2021). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from https://academic-eb-com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/levels/collegiate/article/Charlotte-Perriand/625197
Woodham, J. M. (2006). A dictionary of modern design. Oxford University Press.