Charlotte Perriand – Inventing a New World

Twenty years after the death of Charlotte Perriand, the Foundation Louis Vuitton is celebrating the visionary creator with an exceptional exhibition. This event highlights the links between her design, architecture and artworks.

For the first time since its opening in 2014, the Foundation Louis Vuitton is dedicating the entire Frank Gehry building to a single designer, Charlotte Perriand (1903-1999). From the 1920s to the beginning of the 21st century, Charlotte Perriand’s work and life reflect an extraordinary, free and independent career. While she is best known for her contributions to the field of design, Charlotte Perriand didn’t hesitate to cross the boundaries between artistic and intellectual disciplines.

“Art is in everything, art is in life and it expresses itself in every occasion and in every country.”

An independent, sporty and a well-travelled woman, Perriand was attentive to nature and to the environment. Open to cultural dialogues, she was socially, artistically and politically active on a daily basis. Using a multitude of artistic materials, from chrome tubes to a straw, raw wood, bamboo, prefabricated elements and polyester, she combined design, architecture, urban planning, crafts and fine arts without ever neglecting the humanistic and economic aspects of her creations.

The exhibition presents Perriand’s lifetime achievements and the links she forged with the greatest artists of her time. This includes over 400 pieces of her work.

Chronologically laid out and spread across four levels, the exhibition layout combines her work with that of her close friends, going as far as to immerse the visitor into historical reconstructions, the apartment/studio on Place Saint-Sulpice (1927), the Salon d’Automne (1929), the Maison du Jeune Homme (1935), above the Maison au bord de l’eau (1934), the Refuge Tonneau (1938) and below the Maison de thé for UNESCO (1993) which she designed a few years prior to her death. The Tea House was “dedicated to nurturing an attentive dialogue between cultures, anchored in creativity and resolutely focused on modernity”.

Frank Gehry on Perriand…

I did not know what to expect when I visited Charlotte Perriand’s apartment for the rst time. Sure, I knew about her beautiful furniture designs and her work with Le Corbusier, but I was not prepared for what I experienced rst-hand: her mastery of space and composition. Everything was exquisitely composed at the human scale, immediate but not contrived. It was clear to me that she understood sculpture in the highest sense of the word, as the relationship between objects in the world. Moving through the modest space, I could feel the spaces as she had composed them. Everything had a purpose in a way that you can only do when designing for yourself.

From the very beginning of the exhibition, Charlotte Perriand reinvents housing which can be viewed as you enter the first gallery, notably by collaborating with Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret. The 1930s set the scene of her political, social and artistic engagement, often alongside Fernand Léger. It is also with the latter that, aware of the limits of progress and technology, she imagines a “raw art” inspired by nature which can be viewed in gallery 2. 

Her love of the mountains is also reflected in several of her creations, including the ‘Refuge Tonneau’ made using aluminium and wood, built in 1938 below.

“What do we want to be? How do we want to live? It is not new technologies which are at stake but rather the way men use it.”

Bernard Arnault, President of the Foundation Louis Vuitton on Perriand..

The Foundation is proud to present one of the greatest creative talents of the twentieth century, Charlotte Perriand, whose work and thinking extend far beyond the fields of design and architecture. Charlotte Perriand (1903–1999) invites us on an unprecedented creative journey marked by a dialogue with the artists of her time, from Fernand Léger and Pablo Picasso to Georges Braque, Alexander Calder, Hisao Domoto, Joan Miró, Henri Laurens, Le Corbusier, and Sōfu Teshigahara. The exhibition presents some two hundred works of art, either integrated directly with creations by Charlotte Perriand, or displayed in conjunction with her design projects. Drawing inspiration from Japan and Brazil, she traces the contours of a new world where tradition embraces modernity, bridging different arts and cultures.

 Fondation Louis Vuitton, 8 Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, Paris 75116

From 2 October 2019 to 24 February 2020

Nicky’s World October 2019

Images c/o Foundation Louis Vuitton