Charlotte Perriand is a member, by right, of the cultural elite which, from the first decades of the twentieth century, promoted the renewal of aesthetic values and gave impetus to a properly modern sensibility of daily life.
In this context, the object of her specific contribution is the layout of the spaces specific to interior architecture, which are thought to be the engine of a way of life and living which is still today at the heart of the style of contemporary life. As far as the history of twentieth-century furniture is concerned, the advent of modernity is undoubtedly made possible by the audacious action of such a reformer of interior architecture.
At the beginning of her professional career, her “Bar sous le toit”, presented at the Salon d’Automne of 1927, and built entirely of nickel-plated copper and anodised aluminium, received praise from critics. The same year, at just 24 years old, Charlotte Perriand began a collaboration that was to last a decade with Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, in the famous design firm located at 35, rue de Sèvres in Paris.
Her presence in the firm is reflected in the furniture designed with Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret: Charlotte Perriand proved to be an essential link in the refoundation project that they called for, thanks to the singular humanist dimension that she knew how to bring to the often-cold rationalism of Le Corbusier.
In her creations, she strove to adorn everyday life with new aesthetic values. Her talent and intuition are particularly evident in the discovery and use of new materials.
This ten-year association with Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret as well as her experience in Japan represent a moment of intense creative effervescence in the life of Charlotte Perriand. During her long stay in the Far East (1940-1946), she revealed the full extent of her talent by delivering a reinterpretation of the concrete aspects of life, echoing both tradition and modernity. An example is the furniture produced using traditional bamboo processing techniques, which highlight the new forms already explored at that time with tubular steel.
Now recognised by the profession, she is also involved in a series of original and harmonious productions commissioned by the highest institutions, as well as large companies of the rank of Air France and various international organisations, corroborating her celebrity now established on the international scene.
Charlotte Perriand embodied an exceptional personality, committed to leading a real evolution of consideration and outlook on the world.
She observed and wished to rework cultural and artistic expressions in order to create a new relationship between the arts (architecture, painting, sculpture, etc.), between the cultures of the world (Asia, Latin America, Brazil, etc.) and between the movements of the company. At the heart of her work, we find the duality between the political order and the role of women, the relationship with rurality, the transition from a society inherited from the 19th century to the contemporary model of the 20th century marked by upheavals such as totalitarianism or world wars, followed by both physical and moral reconstructions.
She will be particularly visionary in her consideration of the environment, with her amazed, inspired and sensitive gaze on nature and the role of man in front of her. In all her commitments – both intellectual and artistic – and in her avant-garde vision of the “new studio”, she presents a world in motion, a new art of living. She thus takes on an essential role in the way of life and spirit of our contemporary societies.
Cassina holds the exclusive rights to the reissue of the works of Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand, thanks to in-depth philological studies carried out in agreement with their respective official foundations and their heirs. A first contract was signed by the company in 1964 to produce the first four pieces of the LC Collection, during the lifetime of Le Corbusier and his co-authors. Charlotte Perriand continued to work on the development of this collection until her death in 1999, in close collaboration with the Cassina teams.
Charlotte Perriand’s interest in lighting dates back to her training at the École des Arts Décoratifs in Paris from 1920 to 1925. At the age of 20, she was awarded the silver medal in the luminary competition by the Society for the Encouragement of Art and Industry.
When the budget allowed, she created new models according to the schedule and the circumstances. In Japan in 1940, for example, she created a series of lamps in bamboo, for lack of metal. When she did not have a sufficient budget for her projects, she took particular care to select existing models to meet the “need for light”. In the 1920s, she used Kodak movie projectors or car headlights to light homes. Charlotte Perriand’s lights are timeless. They are both functionalist and minimalist, designed like her furniture, on the scale of architecture.
These are not “designer” lights, but rather the architect’s lights that play with volumes and proportions, like an architectural element of a whole, to make the space “sing”. Today it is lighting supplier Nemo which ensures the new edition of lighting designed by Charlotte Perriand.
Nemo presents itself as the contemporary interpreter of the lamps that these artists have created in the past. These were conceived as absolute projects, intended only for the architectures for which they had been designed. They corresponded to innovative and radically modern spaces, but their intrinsic qualities remained evident, regardless of their environment. Today, they suggest a timeless design that makes them simple, iconic and always authentic.
To question everything, but also to question myself as time goes by, facing the future to come.
A tribute exhibition to a great visionary designer of the 20th century in partnership with Cassina
From 30 January to 13 February 2020, in resonance with the exhibition “The New World of Charlotte Perriand” at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, the RBC group, always committed to transmitting the history and culture of design, organised an exhibition in its Montpellier setting as a tribute to this visionary architect and designer, who knew how to make a name for herself and bring her new and strong vision to the world of design during the 20th century.
The exhibition, which was spread over a full floor on level 5 of the RBC showroom in Montpellier, highlighted cult pieces of furniture designed by the designer such as the LC7 armchair, the LC4 chaise-longue (designed with Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret), the Meribel stool, the Tokyo chaise-longue, the Nuage shelf, the Rio coffee table, and the Mexico table and stool. More than twenty pieces were exhibited, including the famous LC35 designed with Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret for the Maison du Brésil, a faithful reconstruction in a special edition of the room inaugurated in 1959 in the Cité Universitaire Internationale in Paris.
In the case of Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand, NEMO presents itself as the contemporary interpreter of the lamps that these artists created in the past.
Passionate about the work of Charlotte Perriand and Le Corbusier, RBC also presented the La Luce exhibition, in partnership with Nemo, in its Paris showroom in March 2018.
This exhibition, unique in its genre and in its design, proposed to highlight the lighting fixtures of Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand, produced by NEMO, and to make design enthusiasts better understand the research and design work around light that was dear to these two geniuses of architecture and design who marked the history of the 20th century. Creations, archive documents, photographs, drawings and sketches were brought into perspective with the architectural work of the designers.