The Woman Behind Le Corbusier’s Furniture Designs

The Woman Behind Le Corbusier’s Furniture Designs

The Woman Behind Le Corbusier's Furniture Designs

Anna Hoffman

October 09

The designer primarily responsible for Le Corbusier's furniture was Charlotte Perriand, one of the rare women in the field at the time.

After World War I, women had more opportunities than they had before, but they were still barred from many professions. For example, women were welcome at the Bauhaus, but they were not allowed to study furniture making or architecture, and nearly all were shunted to the weaving workshop. Within this context, along came the 24-year-old art school-grad Charlotte Perriand, bored by the traditional Beaux-Arts designs around her, hoping to design furniture using new industrial materials.

Inspired by Le Corbusier’s publications, Vers une Architecture (Towards an Architecture) and L’Art Décoratif d’Aujourd’hui (Today’s Decorative Arts), she applied for a job at his atelier in 1927, and was famously rejected with the line, “We don’t embroider cushions here” (Charming!).


In the face of rejection, Perriand renovated, turning her own small apartment into a sleek barroom made out of chrome, aluminum and glass, which she then recreated for that year’s Salon d’Automne (the 20th-century version of the Paris Salon). Le Corbusier’s cousin and collaborator, Pierre Jeanneret, brought him to see the bar, and Le Corbusier was so impressed that he changed his mind and hired Perriand as a furniture designer. How’s that for a fairy tale story?

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