Charlotte Perriand: The Modern Life

John Hill
17. June 2021
Place Saint-Sulpice apartment-studio room recreation. (Photo: Felix Speller)

The new exhibition falls on the 25th anniversary of the last presentation of French architect/designer Charlotte Perriand's work in London, an exhibition also held also at the Design Museum, in 1996, three years before she died in Paris at the age of 96. The earlier one was called Charlotte Perriand: Modernist Pioneer, expressing an effort to give her equal weight among Le Corbusier, Jean Prouvé, and other male contemporaries and colleagues who had previously overshadowed her. For Charlotte Perriand: The Modern Life, the Design Museum contends that "in recent years her reputation as a furniture designer and architect has matched the stature of her peers," especially in regards to her highly prized furniture. Visitors to the Design Museum will be able to see her furniture in recreated interiors, as in her own Parisian apartment-studio above, actually sit on her furniture (sit on furniture ... in a museum!), and trace the evolution of her career from modernist to natural, from furniture to architecture. 

Take a short tour through the exhibition below.

"The Machine Age" is the first of three thematic sections in the exhibition, followed by "Nature and the Synthesis of the Arts" and "Modular Design for Modern Living." (Photo: Felix Speller)
The Chaise longue basculante (Adjustable reclining chair) from 1928 — seen here in Cassina's recreation of the Salon d’Automne (1929) by Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, and Charlotte Perriand — is easily Perriand's most famous and lasting creation. (Photo: Felix Speller)
Visitors will be "transported into the world of Perriand," when they "sit in vivid one-to-one room recreations of the Salon d’Automne interior," seen here, and the "London branch of the Air France office designed in 1957." (Photo: Felix Speller)
Cassina's recreation of the bedroom and bathroom in Un equipement intérieur d’une habitation (Equipment for a dwelling), presented at the Salon d’Automne, 1929. (Photo: Felix Speller)
The whole exhibition, done in collaboration with the Perriand family and the Fondation Louis Vuitton, assembles sketches, photographs, scrapbooks, prototypes and final pieces on Perriand's designs. (Photo: Felix Speller)
The cantilever bamboo chair and the cross-based bamboo armchair (1940) clearly illustrate Perriand's shift from "machine" modernism to natural forms and materials. (Photo: Felix Speller)
Les Arcs, the ski resort in France designed by Perriand, herself an avid skier, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019. (Photo: Felix Speller)
Charlotte Perriand: The Modern Life is on display at the Design Museum in London from June 19 to September 5, 2021.

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