One might think that interior fittings had long been a minor concern for Le Corbusier, a utopian architect who liked to bring a city into a building as others fitted ships into rum bottles. With his Voisin plan, drawn up in 1925, he would happily have reduced Paris to twenty or so tower blocks, but of course with a sincere desire to improve the living conditions of modern man.
Until the 1920s, his completed projects were less numerous than his theoretical writings. Above all, he mastered the art of the slogan and an inclination for polemics as a way of increasing his notoriety.
In any case, the workshop’s activity reached its first peak when he was joined in 1922 by his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret. Le Corbusier abhorred the visual excesses of ornate plasterwork and the “impure ornaments” of old-fashioned decoration. He stated that “art is harmony and not decoration,” a concept put forward in “L’art décoratif d’aujourd’hui” (“The Decorative Art of Today”) in 1925. In a house “as practical as a typewriter,” furniture is seen above all as “servants,” combining comfort, portability and durability, as required by “modernism.”
The two cousins had been working on “sitting machines” since 1924, before finding inspiration in medical equipment. Then Charlotte Perriand joined the workshop in 1927, leading to ten years of fruitful collaboration. It is Perriand who, in 1928, would finalise the Corbusian programme of equipment consisting of “Chairs, tables and storage,” presented in 1929 at the Salon d’Automne (Autumn Show), thanks to financing by the Thonet brand.
The iconic LC series, designed by the trio for the Villa Church and now produced by Cassina, aimed to go beyond rational furnishing to perfection in design, exploring technologically innovative materials such as steel. More suited to large spaces than residential units, it asserts that architecture extends to furniture and that industry can produce “pure” and therefore timeless objects using serial production in a standardised way.