Modernist master Le Corbusier had strict design principles, which he applied just as rigorously to furniture design as to his more widely known architectural projects. For him, 'the smallest pencil stroke had to have a point, to fulfil a need, or respond to a gesture or posture', recalled Charlotte Perriand, his long-time furniture collaborator. This ruthless purity of approach paid off, making his designs as relevant today as they were over half a century ago - so much so that Cassina has just revived four of his remarkable pieces for its ongoing 'Cassina I Maestri' collection, started by the great man himself in 1964.
Ranging from a satisfyingly simple, box-like chestnut 'Tabouret' stool, designed in 1952 for his holiday 'Cabanon' in the south of France - where he laboured over the search for the perfect human scale, known as the 'Modulor' - to a small wooden writing desk created for the children's bedrooms at the Unité d'Habitation in 1957, these pieces were originally produced in small numbers. Now, thanks to an exacting study of his original drawings and prototypes, and a collaboration with the Le Corbusier Foundation, Cassina has realised these designs on a commercial scale for the first time.
The Italian brand, which has owned the exclusive rights to Le Corbusier furniture since 1964, has also taken an aptly rigorous approach to craftsmanship, seen from the precise dovetail joints on the 'Tabouret' stool and the moulded wooden, mushroom-shaped knobs on the 'Porte Manteau' coat rack. The authenticity of Cassina's approach ensures that each piece is a small distillation of Le Corbusier history.
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Malaika Byng is an editor, writer and consultant covering everything from architecture, design and ecology to art and craft. She was online editor for Wallpaper* magazine for three years and more recently editor of Crafts magazine, until she decided to go freelance in 2022. Based in London, she now writes for the Financial Times, Metropolis, Kinfolk and The Plant, among others.
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