PIERRE JEANNERET: TRADITIONAL FUTURIST
Swiss architect and designer Pierre Jeanneret (1896 – 1967) collaborated with his well-known cousin Charles Edouard Jeanneret (aka Le Corbusier) for about twenty years. Pierre Jeanneret was brought on to design the furniture for India’s city of Chandigarh, at the urging of Le Corbusier (who was the project’s architect). Chandigarh was a new modern model of a city conceived by Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister. Nehru’s intention for Chandigarh (named for Chandi, Hindu goddess of power) was to create a city that would “be a new town, symbolic of the freedom of India, unfettered by the traditions of the past.” Le Corbusier was hired to create a master plan for the city, and it was to become his largest and most ambitious project, involving residential, commercial, industrial areas, parks and a complex of government buildings. Jeanneret designed furniture for the entire project, using inexpensive locally-sourced bug and humidity resistant teak. During his partnership with Corbusier, Jeanneret also worked with Charlotte Perriand and they joined forces with Jean Prouvé in 1940 to research the potential of prefabricated housing. Jeanneret, sympathizing with the Communists, joined the French resistance, while Corbusier’s authoritarian leanings let him to elicit work from the Vichy Government and Italian Fascists. Jeanneret, inspired by the local traditional craftsmanship “cobbled together” rudimentary, yet ingenious furniture with bamboo sticks, iron rods, rope, can and straps. Eventually, he created more evolved “low-cost” furniture pieces, classified according to their leg shape, “V, X, Y and Z.” Most pieces were held together with two screws, and sometimes no screws at all. Jeanneret developed pieces for Knoll International, however, it was his time in Chandigarh that most profoundly affected him.
Jeanneret’s Office Chairs c. 1956, showcase his upside down “V” leg design. The chair is constructed of teak with a cane seat and backrest that seems to float in space.
The Committee Armchair, c. 1953, a more elegant chair in teak and leather with detached armrests and rounded cuffs and “V” leg design. All the leather used in the Chandigarh project was from cows that died of natural causes.
X-leg desk based on Jeanneret’s rare “X” shaped leg was designed for various administrative buildings in Chandigarh. The piece is once again constructed of teak, c. 1960-65.
The Kangaroo Chair c. 1950s is one of Jeanneret’s most whimsical pieces. Commissioned by the city of Chandigarh, the chair is finished in a rich teak wood and wicker cane. The chair boasts a simply stunning profile.
Jeanneret’s exceptional sofa for the living room. Constructed of teak and leather, this piece was created for residential spaces and meeting rooms, c. 1955-56.
The Scissors Lounge Chair was designed for Knoll International, c. 1948. While Hans and Florence Knoll were touring Europe they encountered an intriguing new chair designed by Pierre Jeanneret. The design was licensed by Knoll in 1948 and sold as the Model 92 Scissors Chair.
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