Charlotte Perriand (24 October 1903 – 27 October 1999) was a French architect and designer. Her work aimed to create functional living spaces in the belief that better design helps in creating a better society. In her article "L’Art de Vivre" from 1981 she states "The extension of the art of dwelling is the art of living—living in harmony with man’s deepest drives and with his adopted or fabricated environment."
Perriand was born in Paris, France to a tailor and a seamstress. In 1920, she enrolled in the Ecole de L'Union Centrale de Arts Decoratifs ("School of the Central Union of Decorative Arts") to study furniture design from 1920 until 1925. One of her noted teachers during this period was Art Deco interior designer Henri Rapin.
After applying to work at Le Corbusier's studio in 1927 and being famously rejected with the reply "We don’t embroider cushions here", Perriand renovated her apartment into a room with a large bar made of aluminum glass and chrome. She recreated this for the Salon d’Automne, gaining notice from Le Corbusier's partner, Pierre Jeanneret, convincing Corbusier to offer her a job in furniture design. There, she was in charge of their interiors work and promoting their designs through a series of exhibitions.
In 1928 she designed three chairs from Corbusier's principles. Each chair had a chromium-plated tubular steel base. At Corbuiser's request a chair was made for conversation: the B301 sling back chair, another for relaxation: the LC2 Grand Comfort chair, and the last for sleeping: the B306 chaise longue.
Perriand was familiar with Thonet's bentwood chairs and used them often not only for inspiration but also in her designs. Their chaise longue, for this reason, bears some similarity to Thonet's bentwood rocker although it doesn't rock. The chair has double tubing at the sides and a lacquered sheet metal base. The legs unintentionally resemble horse hooves. Perriand took this and ran with it, finding pony skin from Parisian furriers to cover the chaise. Perriand wrote in a memoir, "While our chair designs were directly related to the position of the human body...they were also determined by the requirements of architecture, setting, and prestige". With a chair that reflects the human body (thin frame, cushion/head) and has decorative qualities (fabrication, structural qualities) they accomplished this goal. It wasn't instantly popular due to its formal simplicity but as modernism rose, so did the chair's popularity.
In 1940 Perriand traveled to Japan as an official advisor for industrial design to the Ministry for Trade and Industry. While in Japan she advised the government on raising the standards of design in Japanese industry to develop products for the West. On her way back to Europe she was detained and forced into Vietnamese exile because of the war. Throughout her exile she studied woodwork and weaving and also gained much influence from Eastern design. The Book of Tea which she read at this time also had a major impact on her work and she referenced it throughout the rest of her career.
In the period after World War II (1939–45) there was increased interest in using new methods and materials for mass production of furniture. Manufacturers of materials such as formica, plywood, aluminum, and steel sponsored the salons of the Société des artistes décorateurs. Designers who exhibited their experimental work at the salons in this period included Perriand, Pierre Guariche, René-Jean Caillette, Jean Prouvé, Joseph-André Motte, Antoine Philippon and Jacqueline Lecoq. Charlotte Perriand took part in the design of the ski resorts of Les Arcs in Savoie. In the 1950s she designed for various corporate service spaces. Perriand's main goal as a designer was to develop affordable, functional, and appealing furniture for the masses.
Some of her work includes:
Meribel ski resort
The League of Nations building in Geneva
the remodeling of Air France's offices in London, Paris, and Tokyo
Charlotte Perriand collaborated with Jean Prouvé through the rest of her career.