The Petit Palais offers a new perspective on the work of Charlotte Perriand (1903-1999), revealing for the first time the role of photography in her creative process, acting as both a source of inspiration and a constructive component of her works.

Upon joining the studio of Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret as an associate in 1928, Charlotte Perriand used photography as a study support for the design of furniture, then subsequently as a means of observation of the ‘laws of nature’ (mountains in particular) and of reflection on the urban environment. This is where she found inspiration for her research into shapes, materials and the arrangement of spaces.

The exhibition above all reveals her passion for objects found in nature while out walking, which inspired her creative flexibility and freedom, liberated from the rationalist spirit of the 1920s.

Charlotte Perriand pioneered the use of photography as integral to furniture and as a monumental component of interior architecture in the form of photomontages. This was particularly evident in the era of the Popular Front, underlining her political ideology.

The Petit Palais has helped to rediscover an artist aware of her natural and social environment, able to look at the world around herself, quick to defend her beliefs and committed to creative freedom.

The exhibition, covering an area over 2,000 square metres proposes 400 photos and documents and 70 pieces of furniture, including furniture that actually belonged to the designer. One part of the work is displayed with the permanent collections of the museum (free) and the other part in the Jacqueau exhibition hall (entry fee).

Charlotte Perriand and Cassina

Charlotte Perriand once said in an interview: "It is thanks to Cassina that the furniture of the Maestri, designed so many years ago and forgotten by everyone, has finally been presented to the world. Now you can judge it, look at it, use it, criticise it or adore it. It came out of limbo, because that is where it was."

This tribute was made knowingly: as far back as 1978 Charlotte Perriand worked with Cassina - as Le Corbusier had done from 1964 - to instigate methods of production that best respected the philosophy and specific designs developed in the 1930s by the trio of Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand.

In 2004 Cassina acquired from Pernette Perriand-Barsac, Charlotte Perriand's daughter and assistant for 20 years, the exclusive worldwide reproduction rights for her work, now produced for the 'Cassina I Maestri' Collection. These products are authentic accounts of the creativity of Charlotte Perriand and fit naturally into the exhibition, “Charlotte Perriand, de la photographie au design” of which Cassina is partner.

Faithful echoes of a major work, they share all its relevance with the present.

Cassina, the mark of authenticity

Since its inception, Cassina has participated in the creation of contemporary heritage. When in 1964 the brand dreamed of launching the 'Cassina I Maestri' collection with Le Corbusier, it also became his chief advocate.

With the greatest respect for the original work the project aimed to replicate some of the most important creations of the masters of modernism. The work of historical heroes of design consequently became the object of study and extensive research in order to be reborn in the present, using manufacturing processes that most faithfully interpret the original design.

The iconic furniture of Le Corbusier, Gerrit T. Rietveld, Charles R. Mackintosh, E. Gunnar Asplund, Frank Lloyd Wright, Charlotte Perriand and latterly Franco Albini, thus find themselves once more centre stage, after extremely demanding philological reconstructions.

A tradition of excellence in the service of design

Cassina is one of the biggest founding brands of Italian design. Steeped in the tradition of the finest craftsmanship, the company established in 1927, developed by integrating the latest advances in industrial production and formal creation.

At the end of the Second World War, Cassina grasped the importance of using third party providers to boost the potential of its manufacturing unit. The company then entered into collaborations with people who have now become historical figures in the world of design. In their work with Cassina, Gio Ponti, Vico Magistretti, Mario Bellini thus wrote some of the most beautiful pages of the book of contemporary forms.

This commitment to finding innovative and forward-looking projects has continued without interruption since then. Philippe Starck, Gaetano Pesce, Rodolfo Dordoni, Piero Lissoni, Hannes Wettstein and Jean-Marie Massaud are now among those extending a creative tradition written into Cassina's genetic code.

Cassina has the exclusive worldwide rights to produce the furniture by Charlotte Perriand for the Collection Cassina I Maestri.


De la photographie au Design

7th April -18th September 2011
Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris