Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Oh, patents! Charlotte Perriand's LC4 chaise lounge

Copyright © Fraoise Herrmann

Here is a beginning of the year find that will probably surprise you too (on more counts than one)!

Le Corbusier’s famous LC4 reclining chaise lounge, sometimes called "the relaxing machine", was actually designed, in 1929, by a brilliant 22-year old, French woman architect, called Charlotte Perriand., who understandably, considering just the costs of producing prototypes, "couldn't care less"! (Architectural Review - Interview  2014

The 1930 French patent, FR672824, titled Siège, clearly corroborates this situation, listing her first, as Madame Scholefield, née PERRIAND (her married and maiden names), together with Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, (aka Le Corbusier), and André-Pierre Jeanneret (Le Corbusier’s cousin).  Indeed, Perriand, was invited to work at the already renowned Le Corbusier Studio, in Paris, mid 1920s, jumpstarting a lifelong and close collaboration with the Le Corbusier team, even though she worked on many other distinct projects of her own, and in collaboration with other famous architects and artists, during the course of her 70-year career. 

The French patent disclosing the LC4 chaise lounge recites multipurpose “seating”, functioning equally well as an armchair or chaise lounge, a therapeutic leg-supporting chair, and/or resting chair. It is also a “rocking chair” (the English term is used in the French patent), in that the frame is bent, and the user “rocks” into the various functional positions, in contrast to rocking “back and forth."

FR672824 Siège

The patent describes a bent metal frame, supporting a hammock, with body curving lines, and the double “T” stools on which the frame rests, and rocks from one position to another. The positions illustrated in the patent drawings cover the full range of motion, from one end position. as a therapeutic leg-supporting chair (Figure 1), through a horizontal resting position (Figure 5), and a regular armchair position (Figure 2) (at the opposite end of the therapeutic position), plus everything in between, including the intermediate positions illustrated in Figures 3 and 4. Indeed, the multiple positions of the LC4 chaise lounge require no mechanical parts to operate. The seat slides "rocking" from one position to another, on its double stool base.

The sheet of figure drawings, extracted from the patent, is included with a picture of Charlotte Perriand, using the LC4 chair in the therapeutic leg-supporting position. Another picture of the chair, in the regular, and opposite armchair position, is included, under the watchful eye of Le Corbusier (captured in the poster). 

In an agreement with Le Corbusier, the 1929 LC4 chair was first produced by the Italian Cassina furniture company, in 1964, and is still produced to date by the same company (The Financial Times, 2013). The chair is marketed under the better known Le Corbusier studio name, while the label retains the 1929 Le Corbusier, Jeanneret - Perriand designer names. 

Meade, M & C. Ellis (2014) Interview with Charlotte  Perriand in The Architectural Review, March 6, 2014.
Watson-Smyth, K. (2013) Design Classic: The LC4 Chaise Lounge by Le Corbusier, in The Financial Times, September 20, 2013.

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