“Life was good…and I filled my lungs with it.” -Charlotte Periand
At 24 years old, Charlotte Perriand made a lasting impression on Le Corbusier, when she walked into his studio and asked for a job as a furniture designer. His response? He showed her the door and replied, “We don’t embroider cushions here”.
However, Perriand quickly earned his apology. A few months later, Le Corbusier saw the impressive “glacial Bar sous le Toît” (rooftop bar) that Perriand had created in glass, chrome, and aluminum, for the Salon D’Automne exhibition in Paris. After seeing this amazing display of Charlotte’s talent, he invited her to come join him in his studio.
Together with Le Corbusier, and his partner Pierre Jeanneret, Charlotte Perriand designed a series of tubular steel chairs, based on Corbusier’s principles. These chairs were then – and continue today – to be hailed as icons of the “machine age”.
Many would say that the most famous Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret models may never have existed as we know them, had it not been for Charlotte Perriand. She was recognized by Le Corbusier as having extraordinary talent for interior design.
Although Charlotte was loyal to the concept of Corbusier, she was free to steer the project to its end result. This type of relationship between designer and company created a beautiful harmony that resulted in some amazing works. Each piece renders a quality design and an expression of minimum values, yet with profound depth.
In addition to her work as a respected designer, Charlotte was also very socially conscious. She strongly advocated for improved social conditions and quality of life, and was involved with many organizations such as:
Lilly Reich was a German modernist designer, and closely collaborated with Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe for over 10 years. In fact, the famous “Mies Chair”, was not designed by Mies alone. Conclusive records state that this honor should be shared by his co-designer, Lilly Reich. This Mies Chair has become an “icon of modern classic design, an international symbol of good taste, perhaps the classiest chair you can own.”(www.modernfurnitureclassics.com)
As with other women of her time, Lilly was confined to traditionally acceptable female careers. Therefore, she got her start working as a designer of textiles and women’s apparel. However, her passion for design and architecture surpassed the confinement of gender roles in society at that time. In 1912, Lilly joined the Deutsch Werkbund, and became the first female to be made director.
The Deutsch Werkbund is an organization credited with the first seeds of modern design, and was a precursor to the Bauhaus School. During her time there, Lilly worked in the studio of the famous Bauhaus designer Josef Hoffman. It was also during this time at the Werkbund that Reich met Mies Van der Rohe.
Many would argue that Lilly Reich was at least as skilled a designer as Mies, and was most likely more articulate than he was. Mies was typically more reserved. Although he was said to have rarely solicited other’s comments, he was always eager to discuss design with Lilly. Those who knew both Lilly and Meis regarded her as “the detail and execution person”, and Mies as the “broad conceptualist.”
Together with Mies van der Rohe, Lilly Reich designed many notable works, including:
“My buildings will be my legacy… they will speak for me long after I’m gone.” —Julia Morgan
As the architect of over 700 buildings in California, and the first woman to receive a Civil Engineering degree from the University of California at Berkley, Julia Morgan was a force to be reckoned with. She surmounted gender barriers in the United States and abroad, and inspired generations of young women to follow their dreams.
Julia was born in January of 1872 in San Francisco. After graduating from the the University of California at Berkley, one of her instructors encouraged her to apply to the famous “École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts”, the distinguished National School of Fine Arts in Paris, France. However, she was met with a few hurdles. The administration had previously never conceived of admitting women, so Morgan was rejected. For the next two years, Julia Morgan participated in prestigious competitions in Paris, winning most of them.
In 1898, École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (National School of Fine Arts) in Paris finally admitted her, and Julia became the first woman to be admitted, and graduate with a degree in architecture from this prestigious institution.
Upon returning to the States, Julia Morgan became the first female architect in California. She worked for John Galen Howard in Berkeley, drawing elevations and designing details for the Hearst Memorial Mining Building and helping with the design of the Hearst Greek Theater.
Over the span of her career, Julia was the architect of over 700 buildings in California. These included such projects as several private residential projects and the Oakland’s Mills College Bell Tower (1904), as you can see below.