The biography of Charlotte Perriand

January 3, 2024

The biography of Charlotte Perriand

Charlotte Perriand is one of the most prolific modernistic designers, well known for the furniture she designed together with Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret during the later 1920’s. Perriand was also active as an interior architect and exhibition designer, both in France and Japan.

Charlotte Perriand studied interior design at the École de l’Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs in Paris from 1921-25. The following year she presented a lounge corner called Coin de salon at Salon des artistes décorateurs de Paris which included a table with a glass and steel top. Her real breakthrough Perriand got in 1927, when she at the Autumnal Paris salon presented Le Bar sous le toit (eng. The bar under the roof) including pedestals tables, low stools and bar stools with cross- or circular legs and a bench, in chromed steel, anodized aluminium and glass that she had designed for her own workshop in Place Saint-Sulpice.

During the same year, Perriand had applied for a job at the studio of Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret. Le Corbusier first rejected her, because she was female, but after he saw her Le Bar sous le toit, he changed his mind, apologized, and offered her a job. At the studio, Perriand translated Le Cobusiers ideas of modern furnishings into innovative seating including the B306 chaise lounge à position variable and the armchair B 301 / Fauteuil à dossier from 1928.

At the Autumn Salon in 1929 Perriand, Le Corbusier and Jeanneret exhibited their Interior Equipment apartment installation that consisted of a line of tubular steel furniture, which played a major part in making modernistic design more widely known. During the same year Perriand was one of the founding members of the Union d’artistes modernes (UAM). In 1931 and -34 Perriand traveled to Russia and during the early 1930’s she did photographic studies of Art brut, and in 1936 her photocollage of La Grande Misère de Paris was shown at the third Expostion de l’habitation in Paris. In 1935 she participated at the World’s Fair in Brussels with the ensemble La maison du jeune homme.

Two years later, Perriande left Le Corbusier and Jeanneret to work with the artist Fernand Léger. In 1937 she worked together with Jeanneret and Jean Prouvé, designing wooden furniture.  From 1940 Perriande became an industrial-design advisor to the Japanese Ministry of Commerce which led to her living in Japan until 1942 where she made the exhibition Sélection, tradition, création at the Takashimaya department store in Tokyo (1941).

Perriand traveled back to France via French Indochina, where she, due to a naval blockade was stranded in Vietnamn for four years. Perriand used the time to study local craft skills, which came to influence her design. 1946 Perriand was back in Paris, where she did occasional collaborations with Le Corbusier, including the Unité d’habitation in Marsielle and the Masion du Brésil in Paris. In 1949 Perriand was a founding member of the assocaiton Formes utiles and four years later she once again moved to Japan, where she had her second exhibition at the Takashimaya department store Propostion d’une synthèse des arts.

Back in Paris in 1956 Perriand began a collaboration with the Galerie Steph Simon, which lasted until 1974. From 1967 until -88 Perriande worked on the design of the Savoyard winter sports resorts in Les Arcs. Perriande was appointed Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur in 1983. Ten years later she designed and built a teahouse for UNESCO in Paris, which became her last major project.

Charlotte Perriande passed away in 1999 at the age of 96.
Read more about her life here.

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