While working on the July/August issue (hitting newsstands July 3rd), which highlights women in design, I kept coming back to this iconic image of Charlotte Perriand on her B306 chaise lounge. The graceful lines, strong frame, and (let’s admit it) sexiness of the design create a powerful presentation.
Perriand joined Le Corbusier’s studio when she was 24. Frustrated by the traditional design she studied at Ecole de l’Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, Perriand was drawn to the industrial materials she saw used for automobiles and bicycles instead. Perriand found inspiration in Le Corbusier’s books Vers une Architecture and L’Art Décoratif d’Aujourd’hui and sought out the designer at his studio. Although Le Corbusier initially rebuffed Perriand, he was impressed by the metal-and-glass rooftop bar she created for an exhibition, and invited her to work with him. At Le Corbusier's Paris studio, Perriand made some of her best known pieces, such as the B301 Swivel chair. She went on to design several ski resorts and a hospital, proving herself an adept architect as well. During World War II, Perriand did a stint in Japan helping the government revamp their design industry and eventually exiled to Vietnam. During this time, Perriand studied local crafting techniques and experimented with bamboo and wood in her designs.
After returning to Paris, Perriand continued to work with Le Corbusier and Fernand Léger. Although her work from this time period, like the designs she made for the League of Nations building in Geneva, it remained innovative and cutting-edge. As our editor-in-cheif, Amanda Dameron, pointed out here, and as our July/August issue will show, Perriand’s designs remain fresh after fifty-plus years.