Charlotte Perriand – French Furniture Designer

Posted on 5th September 2011 in French Designers

Charlotte Perriand – Living from 1903 to 1999, she was a French architect and designer that pursued her design from a philosophical base. She believed that the better the design the more it helped to create a better society.

Studying furniture design at the Ecole de l’Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs furniture she already started exerting her influence at a young age of 24. She was known for creating modern furniture design using chromed steel and anodized aluminum. Championed by the critics when she presented at the Salon d”Automne in 1927, she went on to collaborate with the world famous architect Le Corbusier known for his strict attention to minimalist lines and details. Lasing nearly ten years with him she created during this time “The Equipment of Habitation: Racks, Seats, Tables” which was produced initially by Thonet and then Cassina. Some of the pieces she designed while she was with him were the “LC2 Grand Comfort” armchair, the “B301” reclining chair and the “B306” chaise lounge.

Becoming more involved in the politics of her time during the mid-1930’s she joined several leftist organizations and continued to design both modern furniture and living spaces. Perhaps because of her involvement in these groups it began to influence her design style which started to shift towards the use of more traditional materials and affordable materials along with an emphasis on handcrafted techniques.  She experimented with wood and cane in the hope that she could produce well designed and affordable furniture at a mass production scale.

Part of this exploration was to collaborate with Jean Prove and Pierre Jeanerette on designing prefabricated buildings.

Spending time in Japan from 1940 to 1942 as well as reading the Book of Tea, greatly influenced her designs from 1940 until her death. While she was sent their as an advisor on industrial design to the Ministry of Trade and Industry she eventually was forced to leave the country as an “undesirable alien”. She continued to design both interiors and furniture and helped to design a prototype kitchen for Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation apartment building in Marseille in 1950 and the ski resorts of les Arcs in Savoie in 1962.

As a part of the machine age view of living, some of her best works are a series of tubular steel chairs the “Fauteuil Dossier” the B301 in 1928, the “Swivel” chair  the B302 from 1928-29 and the “Chaise Lounge” the B306 in 1928.

As she moved away from working with Le Corbusier and became independent,

she stated  “The most important thing to realize is that what drives the modern movement is a spirit of enquiry, it’s a process of analysis and not a style…We worked with ideals.”

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