French architect and designer Charlotte Perriand’s innovative work continues to respond to genuine human need, speaking to distinctive functionality and craft. Moved by a deep appreciation of the original work, Perriand’s key designs are currently available at boutique lighting supplier Mondoluce.
Passion for design guided Charlotte Perriand throughout her early life, leading her to a career that would last for nearly 70 years. Perriand first received critical acclaim at the age of 24, when her 1927 exhibition ‘Bar sous le Toît’ (Bar under the Roof) proposed a functional and sleek interior inspired by the machinery being produced at the time. Comprised of nickel-plated copper and anodized aluminium, the work immediately caught the attention of renowned modernist designer Le Corbusier, who went on to collaborate with Perriand for a decade. In 1940, Perriand relocated to Japan and as she immersed herself in the culture, her later work testified to her pre-existing ideas of functionality and honesty whilst utilising wood and bamboo.
Perriand’s lighting designs – centred on human life and behaviour – endure. Her lamps are, as Mondoluce explains, “not a decorative element added for no reason, but a functional and technical component, a tool and an object answering to specific needs.” The resulting essential forms have an inherent and purposeful sense of adaptability that considers the movements comprising interior life – Perriand’s use of pivoting screens, for example, stems from the desire for a beam of light to be controlled by a simple touch.
Three of Perriand’s classic designs are currently available at Mondoluce – Applique Cylindrique, Potence Pivotante and Applique À Volet Pivotante. Applique Cylindrique was extremely innovative for its time; when touched, the piece could rotate on itself, enabling users to control the intensity and direction of the light beam. As an operatively flexible light, Applique Cylindrique marked a liberating change from the immovable fixtures of old.
Sporting a markedly different visual character to Applique Cylindrique, the design of Potence Pivotante was inspired by sailboats. The pivoting arm of the lamp enables adjustable illumination and, as it is attached to a wall bracket, prevents any need to drill into the ceiling. Whilst the light emitted from its opaline shade is soft and diffused, it is sufficient to function as a central light source. The final lamp – Applique À Volet Pivotante – is one of Perriand’s most famous creations. Embodying the value of functionality, the lamp features an adjustable aluminium shutter that modulates the light beam, easily altering the atmosphere of the surrounding interior.
As a pioneer of modernity, Charlotte Perriand’s work continues to improve the lives of the people who engage with it. With each lamp celebrating an understated and sculptural aesthetic, the three designs retain their appeal in a contemporary environment. Applique Cylindrique, Potence Pivotante and Applique À Volet Pivotante are currently available at Mondoluce.