by Vanna Villa

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.” Charlotte liked to take her time in a space before starting the design process. In Perriand’s Autobiography, “Charlotte Perriand- A Life of Creation,” she states “I like being alone when I visit a country or historic site. I like being bathed in its atmosphere, feeling in direct contact with the place without the intrusion of a third party. Her approach to design includes taking in the site and appreciating it for what it is. Perriand connected with any site she was working with or just visiting she enjoyed the living things and would reminisce on a site that was presumed dead.


Only two years after graduating Perriand renovated her apartment into a room with a built-in wall bar made of aluminum, glass and chrome and a card table with built-in pool-pocket drink holders. She recreated this design as the Bar sous le Toit (Bar under the roof, i.e., “in the attic”) at the 1927 Salon d’Automne. It was full of gleaming aluminum and nickel-plated surfaces, leather cushions, and glass shelves, and her design received wide praise from the press at the time. The design caused a sensation and established Perriand as a talent to watch. The Bar sous le toit showed her preference for designs that represented the age of the machine, which went away from the preference of finely handcrafted objects made of rare woods. Perriand took advantage of the use of steel as a medium in this project, which formerly was used primarily by men. Despite the success of Bar sous le toit in getting her name known, Perriand was not satisfied with creating designs just for the well-off; she wanted to work for Le Corbusier and pursue serial production and low-cost housing. She was inspired by Le Corbusier’s books because she thought his writings that criticized the decorative arts aligned with the way she designed.



When she applied to work at Le Corbusier’s studio in October 1927, she was famously rejected with the reply “We don’t embroider cushions here.” A month later, Le Corbusier visited her show at the Salon d’Automne, convincing him to offer her a job in furniture design

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