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Charlotte Perriand: The exciting life of a unique designer

Perriand is one of the most prominent figures of the modern movement and author of iconic designs of the 20th century.

From a very young age, Charlotte Perriand was interested in design. At the age of 17, she entered the Ecole de l'Union des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, where she focused on researching the possibilities of new materials. His first works were inspired by bicycles or the first automobiles that were beginning to circulate in Paris. She would soon make a name for herself in the world of design and architecture, something unusual for a woman in a profession traditionally dominated by men.

Under the title Charlotte Perriand: Inventing a New World, the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris is dedicating an ambitious exhibition to her on view until February 24, 2020, which reveals the most salient details of her fascinating life.

In 1927, at the age of 24, Perriand joined the studio of Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret as the person in charge of furniture and interiors, known as "furnishing the room." But Charlotte Perriand had already applied to work in the famous architect's studio. As Le Corbusier famously told her: "We don't embroider cushions here." Shortly afterward, at the Paris Autumn Salon of 1927, Perriand impressed Le Corbusier with the representation of the bar he had created in his attic, Bar under the roof, in chrome-plated steel and anodized aluminum. This interior design project opened the doors of the studio to him.

The furniture designed in Le Corbusier's studio began to stand out from this moment on. Perriand carefully studied the ergonomics and functionality of the furniture, the new materials, such as steel and glass, as well as the aesthetics. She had a lot to do with the authorship of some pieces, such as the mythical LC4 chaise longue or the LC2 armchair. In fact, the authorship of other works, such as the LC7 chair (in the image), is now entirely attributed to her, despite still being named with the architect's initials. In all of them, the steel tube was the protagonist.

In 1937 she left the architect's studio, partly because of political differences. As a founding member of the Association of Revolutionary Writers and Artists (AEAR), she began to travel frequently to countries such as Russia and Japan, surprised by World War II.

With France occupied and Europe at war, he suddenly lived in Indonesia and Vietnam. He came into contact with the Mingei Movement, a Japanese artistic movement. He gradually translated this influence into his designs, becoming interested in organic and natural materials such as bamboo and wood.

From this period, his reinterpretation of the LC4 chaise longue stands out, in which he replaced the steel tubes with 12 bamboo slats. This iconic piece is now published by Cassina and is part of its I Maestri collection. In addition to its original material, it is available in teak and beech.

Upon returning to Paris, she continued her creative life, working as a photographer, architect, and designer. As a photographer, her images of nature, which she was passionate about, stand out. As an architect, she delved into the search and study of new ways of living, a constant concern in her work, which resulted in modular and prefabricated housing development.

 

From 1950 until the end of his life, he worked in his studio in Paris. He continued to collaborate with great designers and architects of the time, such as Jean Prouvé, Lucio Costa, and Oscar Niemeyer. In the 1960s, he produced his most important architectural work: mountain apartments in the ski resort of Les Arcs in Savoie. For this housing complex, he designed Les Arcs chairs and stools.

Her long life - she died in 1999 - made it possible for her to receive well-deserved recognition during her lifetime, with an exhibition of her work at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in 1985 and the publication in 1998 of her biography entitled Charlotte Perriand: A Life of Creation. An Autobiography (The Monacelli Press, NY 2000). A very appropriate title for a life in which discretion and work were her best guarantee to succeed in a field dominated until then by men.

His influence and impact were international, mainly thanks to the wide dissemination of his works and his extended stays in Asia, where the modern movement significantly impacted industrial design.

His generosity and willingness to work were well reflected in these words: "Creativity is spontaneous, but to preserve its freshness, while seeking its perfect execution, it needs to be nurtured, enriched by all the members of the workshop. There is no rivalry, only synergy".

Charlotte Perriand left a vast legacy, which we can still enjoy today in the form of furniture.

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