Pierre Chareau // A Lyrical Machine and Master of Materials
Pierre Chareau (1883–1950), a French architect, interior and furniture designer born in Bordeaux, France attended the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris from the age of 17 to a family of shipbuilders. Together with Le Corbusier, Pierre Chareau was one of the first modern architects of France to experiment with new materials such as glass and steel. His major architectural work and Modernist landmark, the Maison de Verre (1928-1931) in Paris, consists of three floors, with a central courtyard – its metal frame structure supported framed panels of glass. The rooms were separated by wood or metal closet doors that slid or rotated, while the structural elements remained visible, transforming the house’s functional elements into decorative ones – the house was conceived as a total space. Although trained as an architect, Chareau’s primary interest was furniture design. Pierre Chareau’s furniture was often dynamic – designed to perform multiple functions, pivoting, expanding, transformable. The influence of Neoplasticism, Cubism and De Stijl is seen boldly in his work. In 1939 Chareau, forced to leave Paris came to the United States and in the mid-1940s the artist Robert Motherwell commissioned him to design a small studio house in the Hamptons, demolished in 1985.
“Petal” Chandelier, constructed of alabaster and metal, c. 1920s.