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Charlotte Perriand


Charlotte Perriand (French, 1903–1999) was a designer and architect. Perriand studied design at the École de l'Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, France, from 1920 to 1925. In Paris in 1927, she started directing her own interior design firm, which she continued to do for 10 years. Perriand had a fascination with furniture. She worked with Le Corbusier (Swiss, 1887–1965) and Pierre Jeanneret (Swiss, 1896–1967) in Paris as an associate in charge of furniture and fittings from the late 1920s to the late 1930s. Wphnbedarf AG used her designs for furniture in the Typ M model apartment at the Werkbundsiedlung Neubühl in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1931. Jean Prouvé (French, 1901–1984), Pierre Jeanneret, and Georges Blanchon all worked with Perriand in Paris between 1937 and 1940. Her work was renowned internationally, reaching as far as Tokyo and Indonesia, where she worked as an independent designer from 1941 to 1942 and 1943 to 1946. She used photography to observe the laws of nature; in her pieces, she placed special emphasis on mountains and reflected the urban environment. Perriand was in the habit of taking walks, which served as inspiration for her to create in a flexible and free manner. Through this, she was liberated from the rationalist mentality of the 1920s and developed a unique style that is still echoed in many designs today. The Cassina brand was inspiring to her and she is known to have said that it was thanks to them that furniture designed many years ago by the Maestri was once again being presented to the world, after being forgotten for a long period of time. Perriand worked with Cassina as far back as 1978, arduously pressing to initiate methods of production that would respect the philosophy and designs developed by the trio of Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, and Perriand in the 1930s.

Perriand's best-known work is her series of tubular steel chairs that she developed in those early years with Corbusier and Jeanneret. Perriand's unpaid internship with these artists proved arduous. She had to wrap her legs in newspaper during winter months to stay warm, but it instilled principles in Perriand that she would carry with her through her career in design. Some of Periand's other notable works are her 1929 model apartment in tubular steel and glass named Équipement d'Habitation (Living Equipment) at the Salon d'Automne, her design of Le Corbusier's new apartment on rue Nungesser-et-Coli in 1934, and her design for the League of Nations building for the United Nations in Geneva in 1957. A retrospective of her work was shown at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in 1985 and her autobiography, Vie de Création (Life of Creation), was published in 1998 along with a presentation and retrospective at the Design Museum in London. Her work was shown in 2011 at the Petit Palais, part of the Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris, under the title De la Photographie au Design. Perriand died in Paris in 1999.