Launch Slideshow

Space-Age Charlotte Perriand Doors Up for Auction

Space-Age Charlotte Perriand Doors Up for Auction

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    Courtesy Design Museum, London

    Perriand in 1928, lying upon the tubular-steel chaise longue she designed with Edouard Jeanneret and Le Corbusier

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    Courtesy Christie’s

    A pine console from the Hôtel de Doron, Méribel-Les-Allues, France, 1948

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    Courtesy Rago Arts

    Charlotte Perriand. Four doors, France, 1960s. Gel-coated fiberglass, chromed metal hardware. Unmarked. 77" x 28-1/2" x 2-1/2". Provenance: Alpine Station des Arcs, Savoie, France.

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    Courtesy Office de Tourisme, Bourg Saint Maurice / Les Arcs

    La Cascade, 1969, a residential building at Arcs 1600 designed by Charlotte Perriand and Guy Rey-Millet. Each of the developments at Les Arcs is named according to its altitude.

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    Courtesy LesArcs.Blog

    A modular bathroom and kitchen unit that Perriand designed for Les Arcs

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    Courtesy Centre Pompidou

    The kitchen unit as installed in an apartment at Arcs 1800

I’ve always thought of Charlotte Perriand’s work as falling into two distinct phases: the heavy-metal, industrial designs prior to World War II, when she famously worked in collaboration with Edouard Jeanneret and Le Corbusier on the B306/LC4 Chaise and other iconic furniture, and the more naturalistic, craftsmanlike pieces of heavy, carved wood she produced after living in Japan and Vietnam during the war.

So a suite of doors up for auction at Rago Arts in New Jersey took me by surprise, with their space-age nacreous finish. It’s a Perriand completely unfamiliar to me, seemingly lifted straight out of 2001: A Space Odyssey, or even Barbarella. How do these doors of gel-coated fiberglass fit in with all that rustic pine?

I did a little research into the provenance of the doors, which Perriand designed for Les Arcs, a ski resort in the French Alps. The giant complex was built in phases starting in 1968 (the year both 2001 and Barbarella were released, coincidentally), and Perriand had a heavy hand in the development from the outset.

The images I found online show an amazing, unorthodox blend of the rusticism one would expect of both late-period Perriand and any Alpine ski lodge, with a dash of the plastic-fantastic sensibility of the era. Perriand never relinquished her interest in industry; it simply evolved with technology from steel to synthetics.