June Book of the Month // Jeanneret Chandigarh by Assouline

There is quite a fascinating story surrounding the chair that you see on the front cover of our book of the month. An iconic chair, designed by Jeanneret Chandigarh, I wonder if you knew he was Corbusier’s cousin, and I did you know what project these designs were initially created for?

All too often we can lust over these iconic designs that we see listed for auction for eye-watering prices via Philips or Sotheby’s, or we hit save when we see these pieces in swoon worthy Instagram or Pinterest galleries, but it’s important to sometimes do a little digging into the roots behind these pieces that we love.

On a recent trip to Assouline in London, we found ourselves discovering this story that we are sharing with you today, utterly fascinating and we hope we’ve invited you into a little bit of something we love, the history furniture design.

Upon India’s independence, Jawaharlal Nehru, the nation’s first Prime Minister (from 1947-1964), dreamed of “a new town, symbolic of the freedom of India, an expression of the nation’s faith in the future.” Chandigarh, meaning “fortress of Chandi,” the Indian goddess of power, is the incarnation of Nehru’s vision. The construction of this municipality, the brainchild of renowned modernist architect Le Corbusier, born of his utopian dream of an avant-garde city, symbolised the determination of India to move forward into the contemporary world. 

Instead of a “vertical city,” Chandigarh was organised as a horizontal grid with broad avenues, residential neighbourhoods, green spaces, medical facilities, schools, temples, shops, sports grounds, and an artificial lake. Le Corbusier designed most of the infrastructure, highlighting large volumes through a bold use of raw concrete.

Adapting his architectural plans to the regional climate, Le Corbusier provided protection against the sun and the monsoon rains while facilitating air circulation with vented shutters and large terraces. In close collaboration with his illustrious cousin, Pierre Jeanneret supervised the manufacture of numerous articles of furniture for public and private buildings, using wood from the forest-clearing necessitated by the vast undertaking.Above, Jeanneret with his cousinRecently, record prices achieved at auction for these pieces have brought awareness of this great project and its creators to design collectors and the broader public. Today, Indian leaders have become aware of the wealth of this great cultural heritage, and since January 2011 no furniture pieces can exit the country without permission of the authorities and the Ministry of Culture.

This specialised catalogue raisonné sheds new light on this visionary urban project connected to these iconic designs that is generating growing interest among design aficionados around the world.

350 pages, over 400 illustrations, released in March 2019. Available to purchase here.

Images c/o Assouline

Nicky’s World June 2019