10 MAR 2021
Charlotte Perriand & The Les Arcs Chair
“Perriand’s mission was to always create functional spaces and that’s why her legacy has endured” – Matthew Rachman
The misconception is that the Les Arcs chairs were designed by Charlotte Perriand, the incredibly influential French designer, however this isn’t actually the case. Perriand used them to furnish the iconic Les Arcs ski resort which gave the chairs their acclaim. They were in fact purchased in bulk from the now-defunct Italian manufacturer DelVera and to this day the true designer remains unknown.
What most people think of when they hear ‘Les Arcs’ are images of the vast, modernist ski resort with its numerous villages and winding slopes dotted with original cowsheds. However, we are reminded of this chair. An iconic design piece synonymous with the modernist movement in post-war France, the Les Arcs chair is what drew us to the design world. It’s gorgeous simplicity and effortless style ignites a passion within us. The fact that it is not known who designed one of the most recognisable modernist chairs in history gives it, to us at least, a humble aura that many other chairs of the era simply do not.
Perriand was a prominent French architect/designer within the modernist movement. The fact she didn’t design the Les Arcs chair does not however detract from her phenomenal achievement of designing and building the Les Arcs ski resort. The project began when Perriand herself was already in her 60’s and is widely considered to be the pinnacle of her career. She set up an office under the direction of the French government and worked closely with a team of young architects and designers. The aim was to make leisure activities in the mountains more widely accessible to the masses after World War II. She used her expertise in mass production to cultivate both beautiful and affordable interiors for her buildings around the resort, pushing the boundaries of high-quality, prefabricated buildings to make the most of the short summer building season.
Les Arcs ski resort first opened between 1968/69 and over the subsequent 20 years Perriand oversaw its expansion into the resort we see today. Its architecture blending into the environment rather than towering above it. Les Arcs is a triumph of the era, showcasing some of the most significant examples of 20th century alpine architecture and is a true testament to Perriand and the team she led.
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