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Charlotte Perriand (French, 1903–1999)

About this artist

Source: Oxford University Press

French designer. She studied under the designer Henri Rapin at the Ecole Centrale des Arts Décoratifs (1920–25) in Paris and independently attended decorative arts courses with Paul Follot and Maurice Dufrène (1876–1955). According to Perriand, Le Corbusier’s books Vers une architecture (1923) and L’Art décoratif d’aujourd’hui (1925) encouraged her to search for a style relevant to the ‘machine age’. Her roof-top bar (‘Bar sous le toit’), exhibited in 1927 by the Société des Artistes Décorateurs, was made of sheet-metal, tubular steel and aluminium. Perriand’s ability to deal with modern materials and technology led Le Corbusier to employ her. From 1927 to 1937 she expanded the ideas on domestic interior design introduced in his writings and in the Pavillon de L’Esprit Nouveau at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes of 1925 (see Le Corbusier). Perriand also oversaw the production of prototypes for the elegant tubular-steel furniture designed by the studio between 1928 and 1930: the ‘siège tournant’, ‘casiers métalliques’, ‘table extensible’, chaise-longue, ‘chaise à dos basculant’ and ‘grand confort’. From 1928 she organized numerous presentations of the studio’s furniture for design exhibitions. She supervised the installation of interior fittings for Le Corbusier’s Villa La Roche, his Pavillon Suisse and his Cité de Refuge (Salvation Army hostel), all in Paris, in 1928, 1930–32 and 1932 respectively.

In 1929 Perriand was one of the founder-members of the Union des artistes modernes and in 1930 organized its first exhibition, which included furniture manufactured by Michael Thonet to designs by Perriand and Le Corbusier. In 1935 she began to pursue her own ideas on domestic design. Her studies on hygiene and space-saving methods of storage, published in 1935 and 1936, represented important contributions to the science of modern home economics. She also began to reject the machine aesthetic of the 1920s. For the ‘Salle d’étude’ at the Exposition Universelle et Internationale in Brussels (1935), her simple handmade chair in wood and straw represented a radical departure from the earlier metal and glass furniture designed by the studio. Perriand’s formal association with Le Corbusier ended in 1937. She continued, however, to collaborate with his associate Pierre Jeanneret: between 1937 and 1940 they designed furniture in wood and aluminium and, in conjunction with Aluminium Français, established a research team with Jean Prouvé to study the development of prefabricated housing.

In 1940 Perriand was invited to Japan to act as an adviser on industrial art. She returned to Paris in 1946. Her experience in Japan profoundly influenced her later design production, which was characterized by a unique blend of Japanese and Western influences. In 1941, for example, she transposed into bamboo (Paris, Mus. A. Déc.) the chaise-longue of 1929 originally designed in chromed steel. She continued her studies of domestic furnishings and interiors as well as such commercial interiors as the offices of Air France, London (1957) and Tokyo (1959). From 1967 to 1982 she coordinated the team of architects and designers who developed the Station des Arcs (Savoie) ski resort, where she developed her interest in the rational organization of space and the integration of the natural environment. Retrospectives of her work have been held at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris (1985), the Pompidou Centre, Paris (1996), and the Design Museum, London (1996).

Suzanne Tise
From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press

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