After the destruction of the First World War, the 1925 Exposition des Arts Decoratifs was meant to be a big international show that showed a new spirit of progress. Most of the exhibits were well-known and conservative, but the building by Le Corbusier and the Russian Pavilion by Melnikov’s stood out. These two examples gave people a look into the future. They showed how the new architecture of the 20th century would look.
The Pavillion was named after Le Corbusier’s magazine, L’Esprit Nouveau, which he started in 1920 to spread the word about his work and that of other artists of the time. Le Corbusier put a prototype on the grounds of the 1925 Exposition. He did this to show that an interior could be standardised while meeting people’s needs. The interior space is known for its free plan, or “une surface pour circuler” in Le Corbusier’s words, instead of a series of separate box rooms. The top floor is a mezzanine, which gives you a view of the white space below. Le Corbusier doesn’t divide the space with solid walls. Instead, he uses furniture and sliding screens to create different areas.
Glimpse into the Future
The Pavilion’s contents were equally radical. Some of the furniture, such as the steel cabinets and tubular steel-framed tables, was created by Le Corbusier himself. His interior design style reflected his conviction that certain items, like laboratory glassware and porcelain, English club chairs, and Thonet bentwood chairs, had been perfected by industry to their ideal state. All of them are Le Corbusier’s perfect standard solutions for sitting, living, and entertaining in comfort. Paintings by Leger, Ozenfant, and Le Corbusier himself, as well as sculptures by Laurens and Lipchitz, show that Le Corbusier was also interested in art.
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