Charlotte Perriand is a designer whose work in correlation with architecture and urban planning is currently presented at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris. This retrospective covers all aspects of Charlotte Perriand’s work, everything related to her universe in its entirety. A work that has crossed the twentieth century.
First, a few words about her first years as an architect, whose talent has become essential on the international scene.
Born on October 24th in Paris, Charlotte Perriand studied at the Central Union of Decorative Arts in Paris. Based in the French capital during the first forty years of her life, she stayed in Japan from 1940 to 1941 before being appointed adviser for industrial art by the Japanese government. A stay that will mark a turning point in her career. Attracted by this traditional and ancestral culture, Charlotte Perriand will immerse the dialogue of cultures at the heart of her work. Her love for Japan will therefore continue to grow. Her trip to Brazil, in Rio, in 1961, will also open the doors to a solar design and the discovery of new materials. Charlotte Perriand will be surrounded by the architects Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa. She will also meet with the singer Maria Bethânia and the writer Jorge Amado during this period. She will create two Air France agencies one in Rio and the other one in Brasilia. After the London, Tokyo and Osaka ones.
Very attached to the world of art and photography, Charlotte Perriand has been always influenced by different artists. Remember, in a previous article we were exploring the link between architecture and design. And the increasingly fine line would even tend to disappear today. Charlotte Perriand was the perfect example as an icon of this trend. Art, photography, town planning, design and architecture were, for her, a real cycle of creation, becoming, at the same time, the heart of her working methodology.
Charlotte Perriand‘s work in five key elements :
- Her collaboration with Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Fernand Léger
- Her passion for Japanese culture
- Her specialization in prefabricated architecture
- Her attachment to art in every shape and form
- Her political commitment
Barely graduated from the Musée des Arts Décoratifs having just founded her workshop on Place Saint-Sulpice, in Paris, the Charlotte Perriand‘s talent was spotted by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret. In 1927, she became their partner for furniture equipment. For almost thirty years she will bring her know-how on various projects ranging from the Villa Savoye to La Maison du Jeune Homme during the Universal Exhibition in Brussels. Her creation of the famous LC4 chair will remain one of the biggest successes of her career even before the tube furniture. In 1937, her meeting with the french artist Fernand Léger led her to photographic research on outsider art, also in collaboration with Pierre Jeanneret. A creative quartet which will also launch the Ministry of Agriculture pavilion during the International Exhibition of Arts and Techniques in Paris.
En février 1940, le Japon lui ouvre grands ses portes. Charlotte Perriand est nommée conseillère à la production d’art industriel du pays. Sa mission prendra fin un an plus tard lorsque celle-ci partira pour l’Indochine. Au Japon, la designer découvre une toute autre culture, une culture minimaliste où le mobilier est quasi inexistant et basé principalement autour du tatami et des portes coulissantes. Durant un an, Charlotte Perriand va parcourir le pays, apporter ses connaissances. L’ensemble de ses recherches sera présenté dans le cadre de l’exposition “Contribution à l’équipement intérieur de l’habitation au Japon. Sélection, Tradition, Création.” Son histoire d’amour avec le pays du soleil levant reprendra dix ans plus tard. En effet, dès 1953 et sur une période de deux ans, Charlotte Perriand, avec la complicité de Fernand Léger et de Le Corbusier conçoit l’exposition “La Synthèse des Art” à Tokyo. Une exposition réaffirmant le rapport d’unité entre l’architecture, la peinture et la sculpture. Charlotte Perriand en profitera pour rendre hommage à sa terre d’accueil à travers plusieurs de ses créations : Chaise ombre, Banquette Tokyo…
In February 1940, Japan opened its doors to her. Charlotte Perriand is appointed advisor to the production of industrial art in the country. Her mission will end a year later when she leaves for Indochina. In Japan, the designer discovers a whole different culture, a minimalist culture where the furniture is almost nonexistent and based mainly around the tatami and sliding doors. For a year, Charlotte Perriand will travel the country, bring her knowledge. All of her research will be presented as part of the exhibition “Contribution to interior equipment of housing in Japan. Selection, Tradition, Creation“. Her love story with the Land of the Rising Sun will restart ten years later. Indeed, from 1953 and over a period of two years, Charlotte Perriand, with Fernand Léger and Le Corbusier’s support, has designed the exhibition “La Synthèse des Art” in Tokyo. An exhibition reaffirming the unity of architecture, painting and sculpture. Charlotte Perriand will take the opportunity to pay tribute to Japan through several of her creations: the Chair shade, the Tokyo bench…
The Waterfront House is a reflection of the prefabricated architecture created by the designer. Specialized in leisure activities. In 1934, she also signed hotels and mountain huts. The architectural design and urban layout of the Arc 1600 and Arc 1800 winter sports resorts in Savoie mark another architectural revolution. This huge project has taken more than twenty years to be ended, the conceptualization having started in 1967. Utility combined with the aesthetics has always remained a fundamental element for Charlotte Perriand.
The work of the architect and designer has always been very strongly influenced by art. Fernand Léger and Le Corbusier’s paintings have always inspired her work. The literary art carried by Louis Aragon, Romain Rolland, Francis Jourdain or André Durçat, has to be taken into account to understand the Charlotte Perriand’s creative process. From her 25’s old, she joined the Union of Modern Artists, militant in passing for “a truly social modern art. A pure art, accessible to all“.
The existence of Charlotte Perriand was crossed by the two World Wars. Activist for the reconstruction of urban areas, she was involved in education, housing and public health. She summarized her conception of things like “The art of living“. She will encourage the new generation of architects to always include an arty dose in their projects She will also try to attract industrialists to this movement called “Useful Forms”.
“Art is in everything: in a gesture, a vase, a pan, a glass, a sculpture, a jewel, a way of being“
She signed her last project in 1993, a tea house for UNESCO as part of the Japanese cultural festival in Paris. Protected by bamboo, and alongside works by Tadao Ando, Ettore Sottsass and Yae Lun Choï, his proposal surprises with the use of a suspended Mylar for the marquee.
Inventing a New World by Charlotte Perriand at the Louis Vuitton Foundation is visible until the February 24th.