Historical Figures

Charlotte Perriand, architect and designer

Pioneer architect and designer, Charlotte Perriand (1903 – 1999) dedicates itself to putting design at the service of a better society, by creating functional and innovative living spaces accessible to as many people as possible.

First successes

Charlotte Perriand was born on October 24, 1903 in Paris; her mother works as a seamstress in the middle of haute couture, and her father is a tailor. Noticed in high school by her teachers for her talent in drawing, she entered the Central Union of Decorative Arts at the age of seventeen, with the encouragement of her mother. She studied design and decorative arts there, and graduated in 1925, after five years of study.

The following year, Charlotte exhibited at the Salon des artistes décorateurs in Paris, where she presented a table with a glass top. His innovative work soon won him critical acclaim. In 1927, she renovated her studio apartment, and fitted it with a wall-mounted bar, with pedestal tables, stools and a bench, and steel, aluminum and glass. She presents her work, called Bar under the roof , at the Paris Autumn Salon, where it received critical acclaim.

Le Corbusier

Charlotte Perriand was inspired by the architect and artist Le Corbusier, whose books she read Vers une architecture and Decorative Art Today , and whose vision of decorative art she appreciates. She will say:“Reading these two books was a dazzling experience for me. They made me cross the wall that blocked the future .

In October 1927, she pushes the door of Le Corbusier's study to apply. The answer she receives is clear:“Here, we don’t embroider cushions”, she sees herself retorting. Before leaving the premises, she points out the exposure of her Bar under the roof at the autumn salon; Le Corbusier goes there, discovers the work of the twenty-year-old young woman, and hires her. Charlotte will work for ten years in collaboration with Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret. She is in charge of furniture and equipment for studio projects, and exhibits in many fairs.

In 1928, Charlotte Perriand took charge of the furniture for the Maison La Roche, built by Le Corbusier and Jeanneret (now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site), as well as the Villa Church. The work she produced on this occasion included a rocking chair, known as LC4, which was to be a great success. In her creations, she seeks simplicity, stripping; engaged on the left, it favors traditional, solid, inexpensive materials.

Stay in Japan

After ten years of collaboration with Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand decides to get out of the influence and shadow of the latter to work on her own account and establish new artistic relationships; one of the few women in a very masculine universe, she struggles to make a name for herself despite the success of her creations and the recognition of critics. In 1929, Charlotte was one of the founders of the UAM (Union of Modern Artists). She then collaborated with the architect and designer Jean Prouvé, or even Paul Nelson.

From 1940 to 1942, Charlotte stayed in Japan, where she held the position of adviser on industrial art to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. She is passionate about local culture, gives lectures on the decorative arts, organizes exhibitions and continues her creative work. Traditional Japanese houses and objects influence the artist in his quest for simplicity, functionality and economy to design models accessible to as many people as possible. This stay left a lasting mark on his work.

After Japan entered the war, Charlotte's stay changed to probation, then to exile in Vietnam. Back in France in 1947, she traveled again to Japan in 1955.

Les Arcs resort

Upon her return to France, Charlotte Perriand resumed her collaborations with Jean Prouvé. From 1967 to 1989, she participated in a major project:the construction of the Arc 1600 and Arc 1800 villages in the resort of Les Arcs, in Savoie. Passionate about skiing and the mountains, she had begun in the 1930s to think about what would be for her a perfect ski resort:a project that would "climb the slope to form a whole where each floor would have a view of the 'skyline “.

In Les Arcs, Charlotte works on the architecture of housing and hotels, as well as interior fittings, furniture, and even utensils. The architecture combines innovative concepts, inspired in particular by the work of Le Corbusier, and traditional materials dear to Charlotte, attached to simplicity as much as to nature:wood (especially larch), stone, slate. It creates housing without vis-à-vis, functional, and relegates cars to the outskirts to preserve pedestrian streets.

In 1993, Charlotte created an ephemeral tea house, inspired by Japanese pavilions, as part of the Japanese event Dialogue des cultures at Unesco. She then worked on her memoirs. Charlotte Perriand died in October 1999 in Paris, at the age of 96.