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Pierre Jeanneret, Dining Table

Swiss-born architect and furniture designer Pierre Jeanneret (1896-1967) worked for most of his life alongside his cousin Le Corbusier. In 1926 they published their manifesto “Five Points Towards a New Architecture" which served as the backbone for their architectural aesthetic. The Villa Savoye (1928-1931) serves as a representation for their outlined ideology. This elegant building was predominantly made out of glass with an almost undivided interior and columns, which made it look as if it was floating above the ground.

In 1929 at the Paris Salon d'Automne, Jeanneret unveiled a set of modern furniture designed in collaboration with Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand. Included were tubular steel chairs, stools and a set of modular steel storage units. Jeanneret's contribution to the partnership was considerable, not least in introducing professionalism in following through projects and work on site - he often stimulated and provoked his cousin's imagination or moderated it with his own realism. He frequently drew the first sketches for plans that he then gradually reworked and refined with Le Corbusier, playing an important part in ensuring the office's continuity, coordinating work and maintaining tight control over all the technical aspects.

In the early fifties Le Corbusier and Jeanneret set out for an urban planning project in Chandigarh, India, designing and producing low cost buildings for the community. Le Corbusier left the project mid-way and Jeanneret became the Chief Architect and Urban Planning Designer. He stayed in Chandigarh for fifteen years and the city evolved into a landmark of modern architecture.

The Furniture of Chandigarh

After Indian independence in 1947 and the subsequent partition of India and Pakistan, there was a need for a new administrative capital for the Indian Punjab. Chandigarh was to discard the weight of tradition and as stated by Prime Minister Jawarharlal Nehru to be “an expression of the nation's faith in the future". After a false start, Le Corbusier was approached for a Master Plan of the new city. Here was the opportunity he had been waiting for since the 1920's, to construct a complete city, nonetheless, he made it a condition that he work in collaboration with his cousin Pierre Jeanneret. Other members of the design team were the British architects, Jane Drew and Maxwell Fry, and the Indian team of administrators, engineers and architects, including P.N. Thapar and P.L. Varma.

Today the monumental forms of the Capital Complex are familiar images of the heroic period of modern architecture, but they represent only a part of the Chandigarh project. Le Corbusier wished to carry the design imperative right through his buildings to the smallest scale, and in this he was greatly aided by Pierre Jeanneret who produced designs for much of the furniture of Chandigarh. The ideas distilled at this small scale, contribute to our understanding of the grand scheme, by linking us through the intimate and the tactile, to the scale of the building, sector and city.

The furniture of the Capital Complex was fashioned with economy in mind and depended on local materials and skills. The collection provides us with an insight into the design ethos, not just of monumental modernism, but of the intimate scale of everyday use.

Object information

Solid teakwood
Date and place:
India, Chandigarh, 1950s
77 x 182 x 91 cm

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