Posted on 14 March 2016
Charlotte Perriand’s story is inspirational, it is one of talent, courage and determination. In honour of Women's History Month, we're shinning light on the women who inspire us, particularly those who inspired Sarah's latest collection In Praise of Shadows. Perriand conceived a new way of living which still lies at the heart of contemporary design. Perriand fundamentally believed that better design helps creates a better lifestyle and in turn a better society. She combined strict functionality with a sense of fluidity in her designs.
Born in France, Perriand grew up in an era where many professions were still considered unsuitable for women - despite growing opportunities in other areas. Perriand - a freshly graduated art student - had become bored with the Beaux-Arts designs around her and wanted to create something new. She fantasised about creating furniture out of industrial materials, which were not popular choices in the world of design at that time.
Perriand was famously rejected from working at Le Corbusier's studio in 1927 with the reply "we don’t embroider cushions here", Perriand, however, remained optimistic, refusing to accept the rejection. She renovated her apartment into a room with a large bar made of aluminum glass and chrome. She recreated this for the Salon d’Automne - an annual art exhibition held in Paris - and whilst showing there attracted the attention of Le Corbusier's partner, Pierre Jeanneret, who convinced Le Corbusier to offer her a job in furniture design. Perriand was praised for bringing a sense of humanism and a warmth to the often cold rationalism of Le Corbusier’s work.
Perriand left Le Corbusier a decade later and began travelling around Japan and Thailand. While working in Japan, Perriand maintained a distinctly European character to her designs whilst incorporating influences from the new culture she found herself a part of, such a her ‘Ombre Chair’ - seen above. She began favouring bamboo as a crafting material, citing its flexibility as an attraction over other woods.
She conceived several iconic pieces - her stackable ‘Air France’ table, and ‘Nuage’ shelves - in conjunction with Jean Prouvé which show a perfect marriage of her Japanese-informed aesthetic and Prouvé’s groundbreaking industrial modernism.
Perriand’s work embraces both the traditional and the modern, creating an expert blend of both ways of life. The Sarah Bond Perriand Dress draws inspiration from this technique, using bold lines and contrasting colours, worked into a timeless silhouette.
During a time when women were expected to stay home and, in the words of Le Corbusier, “embroider cushions”, Perriand broke the preverbal mould. She saw an absence of modern ascetics in design and sought the make the realm her own. Often over shadowed by Le Corbusier, and to a lesser extent Pierre Jeanneret, Perriand is a design icon in her own right and an inspiration to us all.