Designer of the week: Charlotte Perriand

Posted by Manhattan Home Design on Jan 15th 2019

Born in 1903, Perriand was a French architect and designer who believed that better furniture would inevitably lead to a better society. Though this might seem, for some, a very naïve or farfetched way of thinking, for Perriand this was a way of life. She perceived the world through benevolent eyes, understood the importance of solitude, and was interested on a collective victory.

Perriand was the daughter of a tailor and a seamstress, which probably influenced her artistic talents, and more specifically, her prowess with drawing and sketching. Her art teacher encouraged to enroll in an art program after finishing high school, and following this directive Perriand attended the Ecole de L'Union Centrale de Arts Decoratifs in 1920.

She graduated in 1925 and began attending various design workshops through Paris, her undying hometown. Perriand would live in The City of Light until her death in 1999, but her life (and work) became much more international and exciting before that time came to pass.

Design, travels, and legacy

Perriand is famous for her work on her own spaces, among other things. She turned the attic on her Parisian house into a bar, complete with aluminum stool and other perks, like a built-in gramophone. This experiment made her famous (and successful) so she recreated the “Bar under the attic” for a public design exhibit in 1927.

She began to collaborate with many famous designers while receiving a lot of influence from Asian cultures. Perriand famously loved the 1906 Japanese “Book of Tea,” which apparently influenced a large part of her furniture and architectural designs.

In 1940, World War II surprised Perriand in probably the worst place for a French person: Japan. Unable to return home, she spent 2 years on the island and 4 more in Vietnam as an exile following a forceful removal from The Land of the Rising Sun. She returned to Paris in 1946 with a lot of new ideas and conceptions that flourished amongst the war’s deadly aftermath.

Perriand’s most famous works and contributions

Perriand’s Nuage bookshelf, which made her famous amongst Parisian design circles, is now probably her most recognizable contribution to the modernist movement. Still in production today, the Nuage is trademarked by Cassina.

Her work with metal tubes, which resulted in a collection of stools and chairs, is not widely available today, but a lot of resources and photographs on them can be found easily online. There is also a 1941 bamboo lounge chaise design, heavily influenced by her time in Japan, and other individual crafts that follow this trend.

Perriand’s most important work came in the form of constant collaboration with Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret. Though her contributions were extensive, she was often robbed of the spotlight but has received proper recognition by Cassina and other manufacturers. The design industry itself recognizes her now as a pioneer and innovator who preferred working with others and mainly stayed in her own, intimate shadow.


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