Charlotte Perriand was a pioneering designer of the 20th century, who broke barriers and made significant contributions to modern design as a woman. Born in Paris in 1903, Perriand was a contemporary of many of the great modernist architects and designers of her time, including Le Corbusier and Jean Prouvé. Despite facing discrimination and sexism, Perriand’s talent and determination allowed her to rise to the top of her field and create designs that continue to influence designers today.
One of Perriand’s most significant contributions to modern design were her furniture designs. In the 1920s, Perriand began working for Le Corbusier’s studio, where she collaborated with the architect on several iconic furniture designs. One of their most famous collaborations was the LC4 chaise lounge, which was designed in 1928. The LC4 chaise lounge featured a simple, elegant form and was made of tubular steel and leather. It was a departure from the ornate, decorative furniture of the time and was an important step towards the minimalist aesthetic that would come to define modern design.
Perriand’s designs were characterized by a focus on functionality and simplicity. She was interested in creating furniture that was affordable and could be mass-produced, so that everyone could have access to good design. In 1929, Perriand participated in the Salon d’Automne exhibition, where she exhibited a collection of furniture made from industrial materials like steel, aluminum, and glass. The collection was called “Equipement Intérieur d’une Habitation” (Interior Equipment for a Residence) and was a landmark in the history of modern design.
The Les Arcs Chair may be one of the most iconic designs attributed to Perriand. She created Les Arcs in collaboration with Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret in the late 1920s. They believed that furniture should be designed with the human body in mind, and should be both beautiful and practical. The design team at Niche selected this chair for our modern beach house project in Aptos. We were able to find a set of six original vintage chairs in black tubular steel and cognac leather for the main dining area (shown below).
Perriand’s work was not limited to furniture design, however. She also contributed to the design of several important architectural projects, including the Maison du Brésil at the Cité Internationale Universitaire in Paris, which she worked on with Le Corbusier and Lucio Costa. The building featured innovative design elements like movable partitions and built-in storage, and was an important example of the International Style of architecture.
Despite facing discrimination and sexism throughout her career, Perriand remained committed to pushing the boundaries of modern design. She continued to work on innovative projects and was an important voice in the design community. In the 1950s, she began designing prefabricated houses, which were intended to be affordable and easy to assemble. Her “Maison de Vacances” (Vacation House), designed in collaboration with Jean Prouvé, was an early example of this type of housing.
Perriand’s legacy as a woman in modern design continues to inspire designers today. She was a trailblazer who refused to be limited by societal expectations, and her work continues to be celebrated for its elegance, functionality, and innovation. Perriand’s commitment to making good design accessible to everyone, regardless of their income or social status, is a testament to her belief that good design can improve the lives of all people.