Furniture History: Charlotte Perriand

Charlotte Perriand was born in France in 1903 and was a decorative arts-school graduate in 1927 when she was invited to work with the famous Le Corbusier in his studio in Paris.

Charlotte Perriand using a "chaise longue basculante" in 1929

Le Corbusier had already declared that “the house is a machine for living in” but the question for modernist visionaries in the late 1920s was how to actually translate the spirit of the Machine into a room. In other words, what shape will the machine take inside the home, how will it adapt for the everyday activities of living, eating and sleeping? 

Charlotte Perriand's design

Charlotte Perriand effectively helped Le Corbusier and his collaborators answer these questions and envision a new modern world

She participated in the first tubular steel designs for systematized furnishings known as “equipment intérieur de l’habitation” in 1928-1929. This forward thinking collection, strictly functional and clearly hard-edged, included by the famous LC2, LC3 and LC4 chairs. Iconic designs of the International Style. 

More than actively participating in these creations, Charlotte Perriand was instrumental in bringing them to life with Le Corbusier saying that “Madame Perriand possesses exceptional qualities of inventiveness, initiative and realization in this domain.” 

A bookcase designed by Charlotte Perriand

n her autobiography, Perriand would claim that the “entire responsibility” of realizing the “domestic equipment” of Le Corbusier’s buildings were hers and that he waited impatiently for her productions.

She would break with Le Corbusier in the late 1930s to pursue a successful career of her own. She was invited to work in Japan before the Second World War where she introduced the elements of the International Style and combined them with Japanese traditional materials of rattan and bamboo. 

With experience in many disciplines from industrial design to furniture, to architecture, Perriand created hundreds of objects and a dozen full sized room installations throughout many decades. 

She is claimed to be a major design force through most of the 20th century.