A visionary, free-spirited architect and designer, Charlotte Perriand depicted the modern essence of the 20th century through an incredible production that displayed the aesthetic values of a design concept that was extremely in tune with the times. She had a plural and innovative approach to architecture and design, emphasizing the importance of visual arts as tools to transform everyday activities into Art de Vivre.
She breathed life into a world in which artistic creation is everywhere: the object is a work of art itself. Her projects did not merely provide functional solutions, instead they defined the spaces by inspiring a reflection on art, nature and humanity.
«The architect's job is to work for men in order to build a new world»
Born in 1903, architect and furniture designer Charlotte Perriand approached the artistic avant-garde as early as the 1920s, when she designed her first "tubulars," pieces of furniture that are still surprisingly contemporary.
Free-spirited and forward-thinking, as a very young woman she collaborated extensively with Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, taking part in the ambitious renovation project promoted by the architect and softening its cold rationalism. And, like her male colleagues, she was listed on the labels of her designs.
Perriand did not embrace an actual cultural movement, she was rather driven by a desire to collaborate and feed on contamination. She was interested both in traditional craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology. She employed polychromatic and photographic techniques, incorporating them into her furniture designs. She researched, experimented, and most of all she dared to succeed.
The lamps created by Perriand feature clean lines and a timeless design. Moulded by the architect's eye, they play with volumes and proportions. Potence Pivotante, designed in 1938, is an icon of pure minimalism: a swiveling lamp with L-shaped tubular arms that elegantly dance in space.
In Japan, she discovered the qualities of natural materials like bamboo, whose lightness and flexibility allowed her to redesign the 1929 Chaise Metallique. The Tokyo chaise longue produced by Cassina has a sinuous and welcoming organic form, characterised by bamboo slats that reshape its look and meaning, creating a delicate play of shadows that replaces the metal frame, while the peculiarities of bamboo evoke a natural beauty.
As the post-World War II recovery period in France presented itself as a great opportunity for the construction industry, Charlotte Perriand set up Useful Forms in 1949: an exhibition in which works of art interacted with movable tapestries and architecture, symbolizing the desire to rebuild the physical world as well as the spiritual dimension.
(La maison du jeune homme, Exposition Universelle, Brussels, 1935 © Archives Charlotte Perriand)
The Les Arcs collection includes six designs based on the colour studies for the textiles that should have decorated the interiors of Les Arcs apartments in the French Alps. The vibrant shades of Himalayan wool rugs, hand-knotted in Nepal for cc-tapis, show yet another stunning side of Perriand's creative personality.
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