Charlotte Periand: How a restrained French designer went from a deep cut to a trend

A few months before her death in 1999, Charlotte Periand was invited to enter interview whether she considered herself an architect or a designer. She rejected both titles. “First of all, I would say that I am nothing. For the following reason: I have never designed an object, a shape, a piece of furniture that I do not need to connect with one whole. If you asked me to design a chair for you today, I would say, “Where to go? I have no imagination.”

Such a statement seems rich, given the place Perian occupies in an increasingly design-obsessed culture. One of her iconic desks is inside Jay-Z’s office. Periandum occurs frequently Instagram on The Row and in his boutiques. Last year, Aesop launched its perfume Rōzu, a gender-neutral fragrance, “inspired by the life, work and enthusiasm of the modernist designer”. Brand for shoe design LoQ collection FW ’20 is also inspired by Periand. So was the jewelry designer of Sophie Buhai. Fashion designer Isabel Marant has long quoted it as an influence, proposals in free form from brands such as Wiggle Room they obviously seem indebted to her. In the last two years, there have been two major retrospectives of her work, the first in Paris and then in London. Oh, and Chris Jenner bought one of her loans from Ellen DeGeneres. Strange!

One of Perriand’s iconic shelves.


So how did this relatively obscure figure, long overshadowed by collaborators like Le Corbusier and Jean Pruvet, become so popular so quickly? It may be difficult to determine where visual trends begin, but in the case of Periand, it is safe to say that its latest revival is largely due to a single old-fashioned event: a museum exhibit. In 2019, the Louis Vuitton Foundation (LVMH’s non-profit art museum, which opened in Paris in 2014) conducted a major study of Perriand’s work. All eleven galleries in the space designed by Frank Gehry were dedicated to more than 200 scale models, furniture and photographs. Charlotte Perian: The Invention of a New World was the museum’s first exhibition focused on an artist’s work.

Patrick Sagin, whose Parisian design gallery specializes in the work of French modernists such as Perian, Pruve, Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret – all of whom have worked together at different times in their careers – says that the value of Perian’s work has “gained real value. meaning ”in the art world after the show in 2019. Today, many of her designs are being auctioned at six figures. Part of Periand’s appeal has been the limited number of original pieces in circulation – she has always wanted to create affordable, inexpensive furniture, but with so many modernist ideals, this has never happened. Only one brand – Cassina, which collaborates with LVMH at the exhibition – is authorized to create reproductions of her work.

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