She was inspired by nature and machines, bowed to Le Corbusier and convinced him with her humanity and talent. She was modern, primitive and nonconformist. Always free; to create and to live. She climbed the mountains and found her physical and emotional balance.
The 1928 Chaise Longue, a design classic often attributed to Le Corbusier, was actually designed in collaboration with Charlotte Perriand and Pierre Jeanneret. The now iconic chair was shaped by Perriand from the image of herself. Perriand together with Lilly Reich and Eileen Gray, besides giving a feminist interpretation of modernist design, offered both utility and comfort with a dimension of incisive materials, emphasizing their brilliance and transparency as well as their degradation and vulnerability.
Perriand was born in Paris in 1903, the daughter of a tailor and a seamstress. She graduated from the School of the Central Union of Decorative Arts. She was always interested in interior design and furniture and at 24 she exhibited at the Salon d’Automne in 1927 and her work was well received by critics.
She knew exactly what she wanted. That same year she had the courage to knock on the door of the studio of Le Corbusier who sent her away with a somewhat caustic irony: we don’t embroider cushions here.
Perriand later made him eat his words when his cousin and collaborator Pierre Jeanneret took him to see the exhibition of Perriand. Le Corbusier was surprised and decided to give her a job in his studio, of course without pay, as the person in charge of “the shelves, chairs and tables”. Until then Le Corbusier had furnished spaces with objects that were not made by him. From that moment, the spaces were Charlotte’s responsibility and she proposed that the pieces should be inspired by that time, borrowing ideas from the automotive and aerospace industry. These creations later proved to be of a great importance in the history of design, and were signed by the three partners: Le Corbusier, Jeanneret and Perriand.
When Perriand’s daughter came with her to Le Corbusier’s studio she found it a cold and distant place and preferred the afternoons they spent in the study of Leger.
In 1937 Charlotte Perriand left the studio after 10 years and turned her attention to more traditional materials and organic forms. She was dedicated to research in terms of prefabricated houses and collaborated with Jean Prouvé, another of the greats.
In 1940 she travelled to Japan to work in the Ministry of Trade and Industry. In Japan she gave a series of lectures and made multiple visits to studios and workshops and organized an exhibition called “Selection-Tradition-Creation”. She had a great influence on Japanese design.
Her house in Japan was just in front of the Imperial Palace. During her stay (1940-1946) she refined her interpretation merging Eastern and Western elements making tradition and modernity reach a noticeable connection with nature. His love of stones and woods was such that came to talk with nature.
She was a strong and intelligently optimistic woman who began building modernity in the 1920s after entering the studio at Rue de Sèvres in Paris, beginning what was going to be a ten year collaboration with Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret.
Rational people adapt their wishes to the reality. Those who are not, adapt the world to their desires. Progress always comes from the heads and hands of the latter.