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Charlotte Perriand

b. 1903

Paris, France

Parisian-born Perriand became known for iconic furniture steeped in Modernism

For Charlotte Perriand, better design creates a better society, with interior compositions conceived as a new way of living in harmony with one’s most earnest sensibilities and profound dreams, a union of emotional veracity and the adopted spaces that surround us. One of the most influential designers of the 20th century, Parisian-born Perriand became known for iconic furniture steeped in Modernism, where the superfluous is eliminated and what remains is sleek, sinuous, sophisticated in function, and supremely beautiful.

Daughter of a tailor and a seamstress, Perriand most certainly earned an appreciation for craft at an early age. With a noticeable talent for the arts, she began a career as an interior designer after studying at the École de l'Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs from 1920 to 1925. An ardent supporter of Le Corbusier’s egalitarian philosophy of architecture and design, she approached him with the hopes of working in his studio, but it wasn’t until her Bar Sous Les Toit (bar under the roof) installation at the 1927 Salon d’Automne, where her futuristic furnishings plated in chrome and aluminum captivated audiences, did she attract the attention of Le Corbusier, who then hired her and put her in charge of furniture design at his studio. She collaborated with Le Corbusier and his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret, for the next 10 years, receiving critical acclaim for her series of tubular chairs and an innovative chaise lounge inspired by Thonet but looking toward the future with ergonomic design and a svelte aesthetic.

After working with Le Corbusier, Perriand branched out on her own, forming a partnership with renown designer Jean Prouvé for a time before moving to Japan while the Nazis occupied France during the Second World War. During her 6 years in Japan, Perriand’s design became inspired with a zen-like sensuality, and she became enveloped in the manifestation of natural materials in her work, producing pieces in wood including a lamp created with Isamu Noguchi. Upon returning to France, Perriand redefined the new art de vivre, with work that heralded new synergies between architecture, art, and craft and echoed the sociopolitical changes of the time, adding a marked dimension of warm humaneness to modernism’s often cold rationalism.

From the Villa Savoye to the Pavillion Suisse, from a revolving armchair to the layout of mountain housing, like the Arcs resort in the French Alps, and a beautifully stacked, polychromatic bookcase from 1952, from student housing to Air France’s offices in London, Paris and Tokyo, the keen influence of this pioneering visionary and her avant-garde spirit continues to resonate with society still to this day, with acutely balanced contours in harmony with nature and an evolved approach to urban living, spirited and serene.