“Le vide est tout-puissant, parce qu’il peut tout contenir.”(The void is omnipotent because it can contain anything.)
Everything about Charlotte Perriand (1903-1999) inspires me. Parisienne, architect and designer, Le Corbusier’s right-hand woman, mother of one and working until she was 90. She was way ahead of her time and went her own way. Through the architecture of the kitchen, which she calls a petite prison, she tries to liberate women. She designed an open kitchen, which was separated by a bar and involved the woman in the social activities in the house. Because, she argues, the woman is destined to take care of the family, which means that she is working in the kitchen just about all day. First breakfast has to be made, then lunch follows and in the afternoon the preparations for dinner are on the program. Add to that doing the the dishes and the word kitchen princess takes on a new meaning. In 1943, Charlotte went to Japan to discover the traditional crafts she applied in her work. She is inspired by theïsme and the concept of emptiness becomes an even more emphatic part of her work.
In 1993, at the age of 90, she designed a chamber (chamber thé) for the Unseco headquarters in Paris. It becomes a transient space. “The mundane distances us from the essential,” she says. “Working to consume, everything to keep the machine running. An economic slavery that has no regard for the beauty of life.”
Photo: Bookshelf ca. 1950