For those who are unfamiliar with Perriand, she was a designer – but no ordinary one. She was one of the most influential designers of the 20th Century. She began her career at age 24, as an assistant to Le Corbusier. Within a short time, she became an integral part of the team, as proved by her name being listed first on the patents for some of the company's most important creations. In fact, Perriand once described Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and herself as three fingers on the same hand.


What made Perriand stand out was not only her designs – it was her intensely progressive mind. She was particularly aware of the suffering in the world, and she knew that design could play a vital role in the discovery of solutions to make society more equitable. Like Le Corbusier, she believed that the products with which we surround ourselves, and the environments we inhabit, directly affect our state of mind. With this as a starting point, she turned her beliefs into action, creating a legacy based on functionality and rationality in service to a better world.

Charlotte Perriand on Design

Since A Life of Creation was first published, more and more people have become aware of the many iconic designs Perriand created, especially early in her career – designs like her chaise longue, which remains today one of the most artful furniture designs of the 20th Century.

But her autobiography also helped to illuminate the equally remarkable intellect, which drove her to pursue certain projects and products. One of the most remarkable quotes in the book has to do with a most mundane subject: storage.

perriandcharlottebanquettecaissonc.1950photo1 Charlotte Perriand circa 1950. Private Lot

About this, Perriand said, ''What is the crucial element in domestic equipment? We can answer that immediately: storage. Without well-planned storage, it is impossible to find space in one’s home.'' Of course, storage is big business today. But long before Ikea and The Container Store came along, Perriand recognised it is an essential fact of life that an ordered environment decreases anxiety and increases the quality of our personal and professional lives.

Another memorable quote from Perriand: ''Everything changes so quickly, and what is state of the art one moment won’t be the next. Adaptation has to be ongoing – we have to know and accept this. These are transient times.'' As her work demonstrated, she was not suggesting designers adopt fads. Rather, she was saying that designers are themselves artists. She was an early advocate that designers have a responsibility to push the culture forward by anticipating the need for change that will inevitably arise.

Charlotte Perriand on Charlotte Perriand

During the time when Perriand was formulating her most influential strategies, she lived in the shadow of her male colleagues. She received almost no credit from Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, despite being responsible for many of their most famous creations, and despite designing all of the interior furnishings for many of the team’s public commissions. That is why A Life of Creation should be considered essential reading for collectors, dealers and designers today.
It reveals that despite the sexism of her time, Perriand stayed focused and remained creative. She befriended some of the most famous artists and thinkers of the 20th Century, people such as Fernand Leger. They recognised her genius even though precious little acknowledgement came her way in the mainstream press.

Screen Shot 2018-02-09 at 11.57.12 Charlotte Perriand Swiss pine, black enameled metal tables. Christie's

A Life of Creation tells the story of Charlotte Perriand in her own words. It describes the existential concerns she wrestled with throughout her career. It details her travels around the globe, during which she often had what she called ''encounters,'' which is how she preferred to describe experiences that led her toward aesthetic discoveries. The most famous example one such encounter happened after a prolonged trip to Japan. She found that the concepts integral to Zen philosophy and Japanese culture were strongly in line with her own worldview.

Screen Shot 2018-02-09 at 12.04.33 Charlotte Perriand, Low bench from cite cansado, designed in 1958

That encounter manifested in the Japanese Tea Garden she designed for the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. That space, as well as its furnishings, are formal, and yet natural; they are utile and yet beautiful; they contain little more than what is essential to their purpose, and yet they evoke the sanctity and depth of the social function for which they have been created.

This year, as we look back at A Life of Creation, we also take a moment to consider what our vision is for a beautiful world. When you invest in a Perriand design, you embrace the most essential aspect of her work – her belief that design exists in service to a greater good. As she once said, ''in every important decision there is one option that represents life, and that is what you must choose.''

Search more pieces by Charlotte Perriand here.