Female design: Charlotte Perriand chair

The story of an icon, its re-design and the Patricia Urquiola sofa that became a work of art

Female presence in design has been constantly in the rise during the 21st century (even though nowadays it’s mostly male graduates who reach the peak of their careers).

At the beginning of the 1900’s we find many female personalities achieve international fame: Gae Aulenti, Cini Boeri, Lella Vignelli. Starting from Eileen Gray (class of 1878), one of the first female students allowed in the Slade School of Fine Arts of the United Kingdom, more and more women have taken up on a successful career as a designer.

In this article we remember two of the biggest female names that have made history in the design world: Charlotte Perriand and Patricia Urquiola.

Charlotte Perriand (Paris 1903 – Paris 1999) was the precursor and the model for an entire generation of women in the design world: on 1933 she was one of the few women who would participate in the fourth International Congresses of Modern Architecture (CIAM) held in Athens. French architect and designer, she specialized in furniture design. She became famous for her collaboration with Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, created furniture that have entered the history of design, like the Siège pivotant, exposed at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs of Paris.

Charlotte Perriand’s furniture have made history: from the L6C Table to the 526 Nuage Bibliothèque library, and of course the famous chaise-longue LC4 CP, better known as “relaxing machine”: a true resting machine, a very special object from the artist through which she responds perfectly to the idea of functional furniture that welcome the natural shape of the body to give the maximum comfort.

The creations of this great artist are continuously redesigned by big design brands, like Cassina, who doesn’t hesitate to remind us the genius and modernity of her products.

One of the most recent tributes has been made by Cassina at the exposition of the Collezione Icônes 2014 by Louis Vuitton, where a limited edition of the LC4 CP was presented, in which the self supporting mattress’ cover was elaborated in natural leather by Louis Vuitton and the yellow seams along the straps reminded of the fashion house’s craftsmanship.  

Patricia Urquiola (Oviedo, 1961) is a Spanish designer of Italian adoption. Her legendary career has seen her collaborating with big names like Vico Magistretti and the De Renzio studio. In 2001 she inaugurates the Patricia Urquiola Design studio in Milan.

In september of 2015 she is nominated art director of Cassina, a demanding task that balances the production of contemporary design pieces with the re-edition of the work of the masters, says Urquiola: “It is with a deep sense of respect towards the masters that have consolidated the history of design, that I study the origins of the projects and imagine them in the contemporary world without distorting their identity. Because design changes based on the needs of day to day life: the furnishing must be modern and functional but they also have to last over time”.

Words that reveal her sensibility as a designer and as an artist, a label familiar to her creations, as she explains when she speaks of her works, often compared to pieces of art. For example, about the waved shape of the Bend-Sofa couch for B&B Italia she says: “A seat of primary form, monolithic, almost manually molded as if, from a ductile material, it was created by the gesture of non other than a sculptor”.

The same words can apply to the new sofa designed this time by Cassina: the Super Beam Sofa. As the name says, it’s a modular sofa developed along a single geometric beam that can be completed by a chaise longue or by a series of coffee tables: a simple articulation that gives life to several combinations from an elegant point of view and with the aim of giving the maximum comfort possible, achieved thanks to the use of polyester and polyurethane foam.

Among his most recent collaborations we remember those with: Cassina, Kartell, Molteni&C and Moroso.

In short a truly spectacular career, and a great example for the new generations.

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