Charlotte Perriand | Obsessions
This season, we found ourselves drawn to trailblazing designer Charlotte Perriand as a creative touchstone — and the ways in which her groundbreaking contributions to modern design reflected a broader outlook on living with open-minded intrigue and in response to the world around her.
Born to a tailor and a couture seamstress in Paris, Perriand (1903-1999) grew up with appreciation for artistry and technique, becoming an assistant to Le Corbusier in her early twenties after studying at the École de L'Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs.
While steeped in Le Corbusier’s functional starkness, she began to independently explore a mix of mediums guided by her curiosity, taking up photography as a tool in her design process and explored through regular “encounters” into nature — a term she used to describe experiences that led to aesthetic discoveries. Amid hikes and outdoor excursions, Perriand would capture any shape or material that caught her eye: scrapped metal pieces, stones, wood. Then, returning to her studio, she’d continue the process through photographic studies, setting elements against neutral backgrounds to expose the purity of their organic lines and the quiet power of raw materials (or objects that elicited “a poetic reaction," as Le Corbusier would later describe).
This inextricable link between nature and design is a throughline across Perriand’s oeuvre – blurring the lines between architecture and environment, her work as much reflects an awareness of nuanced movement and human relationships as it does design theory. This attunement to a subtle, poetic undercurrent was a guiding light amid her extensive world travels, from Japan to the Alps to Croatia. Eventually—at the age of 65—it sparked the most ambitious project of her career, the Les Arcs resort in Savoie’s Tarentaise Valley.
The expansive Les Arcs ski resort, which Perriand would dedicate the final 20 years of her career toward, feels like a pure culmination of her philosophy. With a foundational design conceived as an extension of the landscape, the resort is integrated within its alpine surroundings through the use of local materials — all with the functional intention of allowing skiing to be accessible to a wider audience. An invitation for others to be part of the quietly profound moments contained within the landscape.
As we reflect on Perriand’s work, this notion sticks with us most: design as a tool to feel our shared humanity, enacted with respect for the greater whole. Truly, this is what it means to consciously craft the future.