Key facts

Experimental armchair
Architonic ID:
United States

Product description

This armchair, an interpretation of Alvar Aalto's cantilevered designs, was made by Charlotte Perriand for her exhibitions at the Takashimaya department stores in Tokyo and Osaka in 1941. The exhibition Tradition, Selection, Creation was opened under sponsorship of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the French Embassy. It can be considered the immediate outcome of Perriand's official appointment as advisor to Japanese industrial art production from 1940 to 1941 and her collaboration with Junzo Sakakura (fig. 1), whom she had met at Le Corbusier's studio earlier in Paris. The aim was to direct local production towards more modern designs enabling exportation to the West.
It was essential to her "to cultivate a critical approach towards the West, not to imitate it slavishly, but to create a modernity within their own ethics" (Charlotte Perriand, Une Vie de Creation). "We would choose traditional items or such built on my advice or ideas based on occidental designs. One should not forget, at that time, lifestyle in Japan was still very traditional" (Charlotte Perriand, Un art de Vivre, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, 1985, p. 36). Hence the title of the exhibition epitomizes her philosophy of the Tokyo years: tradition, selection and creation.
The construction and materials used on this design, (bamboo and plywood) are the same as in the similar chair (fig. 2) and bed designs illustrated in Architecture d'Aujourd'hui, no. 10 .

Three of the same armchairs can be seen furnishing the exhibition room in the Takashimaya department store in Domus, no. 269. The stamp on the back of the armchair has been translated and proves construction in Tokyo. Furthermore, the stamp proves that the chair dates prior to the Second World War, as the signature is to be read from right to left. This direction of reading was discontinued in Japan after 1945.

Bamboo and bent plywood, stamped with character used prior to 1945
301/8 in. (76.5 cm) high

Tradition, Selection, Creation, at the Takashimaya department stores, March 1941 (Tokyo) and May 1941 (Osaka)
Mostra d'arte in Giappone, Domus, April 1952, p. 41
L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui, March 1949, pp. 104-109
Charlotte Perriand and Junzo Sakakura, Contact avec L'art Japonais; Selection, Tradition, Creation, Tokyo, 1941
Charlotte Perriand-Un Art de Vivre, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, 1985,
pp. 34, 36 and 41
Charlotte Perriand, Une Vie de Creation, Paris, 1998, pp. 161-179