The Woman Behind Le Corbusier’s Iconic Chaise Almost Didn't Get the Job

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By Alex Ronan / Published by Dwell
Before becoming one of the most influential modern designers, Charlotte Perriand couldn't get a job from Le Corbusier.

In 1927, at just twenty-four, Charlotte Perriand waltzed into Le Corbusier’s atelier. She asked for a job and was swiftly rejected with the now infamous line, "We don’t embroider cushions here." She was neither amused nor deterred. She designed a bar made of curved steel, glass, and aluminum for the roof of Paris’ Salon d’Automne, the annual design festival. Pierre Jeanneret, Le Corbusier’s cousin and collaborator, brought him to see her design. Le Corbusier was so impressed by Perriand’s skill that he apologized and hired her as a furniture designer.

The LC4 Chaise Lounge has become one of the most popular pieces to emerge from Le Corbusier's studio.

There were few female designers working at the time and Perriand made significant contributions to Le Corbusier’s furniture collection. In 1928, she worked with Le Corbusier and Jeanneret to design the LC4 Chaise Lounge. Le Corbusier called it the "relaxing machine" for its simulation of the body’s natural curves. It’s since become on of the most popular pieces to emerge from his studio. The trio often collaborated, but the credit for the LC4 Chaise Lounge is largely attributed to Perriand. She posed for the publicity shots lounging on the chaise in what was then considered a daringly short skirt, a short sleeve sweater, and a necklace made of ball bearings.

One of Perriand’s early sketches of the LC4. The original prototypes were made for the interior of the Villa Church Pavilion, a house near Paris that was designed for an American couple.

She’s been called one of the most influential furniture designers of the early modern movement. She worked for many years with glass, molded aluminum, and steel before moving onto cane and woodworking. "There is one thing I never did," she remarked late in life, "and that was flirt. That is, I didn’t ‘dabble,’ I created and produced, and my job was important."

Charlotte Perriand posing on the LC4 Chaise Lounge at the Salon D’Automne, 1929. It was at that design festival two years earlier that Le Corbusier had hired her.

A photomontage made by Perriand in 1929.

A portrait of Charlotte Perriand, Le Corbusier, and Pierre Jeanneret. Cassina has produced the entire LC collection since 1965.

The curvilinear form of the LC4, shown here in black leather, contrasts nicely with the large rectangular windowpanes of this Alaskan cedar cabin.

A Wassily Chair and an LC4 sit amongst furniture from CB2 in this multi-family home.

The LC4 in this Palo Alto home sits just by the acrylic pool window, allowing the owners to monitor their swimming kids in maximum comfort.

The owners of this home decided to limit their color palate to wood tones, black, and gray. The LC4 fits right in.

In this glass enclosed master bedroom, the LC4 faces the master bed. The moveable frame adjusts along the base, allowing the sitter to switch from upright to full recline, or lounge at a number of other sitting angles.