Charlotte Perriand: the design visionary who survived Le Corbusier’s putdowns
From saw-toothed ski resorts to radical recliners, her bold creations caused a sensation. But Le Corbusier took the credit for some of her finest work. Now Charlotte Perriand is finally getting her due
In 1927, a young Parisian designer named Charlotte Perriand applied to work in the hallowed studio of the great architect Le Corbusier. The response she received was curt. “We don’t embroider cushions here,” Perriand was told. What part, after all, could this 24-year-old female furniture designer possibly play in Le Corbusier’s high-minded plan to revolutionise the modern world?
Yet one month later, at the annual Salon d’Automne, the grandmaster found himself at Perriand’s Bar Sous le Toit, or Bar Under the Roof, which re-created a section of her own apartment. Le Corbusier was spellbound; this was the intoxicating hymn to the machine age he had been dreaming of. Nickel-plated copper stools were clustered around an anodised aluminium cocktail bar, while a chrome-plated table nestled beside a leather banquette and a built-in gramophone cabinet.