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Charlotte Perriand didn’t set out to make buildings more beautiful. From the ski lodges she built to accommodate the postwar tourism boom, to student dormitories and homeless shelters, the French designer understood that modernism wasn’t an aesthetic movement—it was architecture tailor-made for urbanism and mass consumption.

A mountaineer in deep snow, long wooden skis over her shoulder, pushes up the last pitch of a steep ascent. Beyond, shards of the Alps rise tumultuously against a clear, cold sky. This view of Charlotte Perriand in the early 1930s, “face-to-face with the sky and infinity, ” as she described it, contrasts vividly with a much more widely published photograph of her resting elegantly on her tubular steel chaise lounge, face turned toward a pure white wall—a calculated depiction

  • Words:
    Alex Anderson
  • Photography:
    Courtesy of Jacques Barsac & Pernette Perriand

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  • Words:
    Alex Anderson
  • Photography:
    Courtesy of Jacques Barsac & Pernette Perriand
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