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David Semczyszyn

Engineer/Artist/Designer

43

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Charlotte Perriand's "Cushion Basket" Petit Confort Chair

Draft 3- 

Charlotte Perriand's Petit Confort "cushion basket" LC2 Chair- Aesthetics trumping ergonomics.

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For years I felt that this chair epitimizes the Bauhaus Style; functional, modern, futuristic, non-ornamental, and sanitized for the new human. A chair that completes the concept of space as "a machine we live in"  ,  that non-human, humans reside in.

Eventuallly , I was able to finally afford to buy a couple of knock-offs, and I have never regretted adding these inspirational sculptural additions to our living room. Something about this chair appeals to several creative sensibilities ; the artist, designer, craftsman and engineer. As well, the romantic anecdotes around how the design was developed, through a collaboration between Charlotte Perriand and le Corbusier, in France in the twenties , just adds to their mistique. I think Charlotte deserves more recognition than the famous Corbu, however, but that's another story.

Of course , if we are talking about comfort, forget it , for me these chairs  rate about 5 out of 10 on that scale!. Depending on your height you either need to squeeze your elbows inside the cushions or raise your shoulders and place them on top of the arm cushions. The back cushion feels too low. 

Black leather and chrome legs are the only options though - don't give me any of the brown leather and green enamel perversions.

Somehow , the firmer cushions of most nock-offs of the LC2 seem visually more superior to the original floppy rich leather cushions, but they definitely contribute to the uncomfortabillity. They do help to maintain the form of the cube that I like so much. One has to  wonder though , given the stories of how quickly Charlotte had to have them fabricated, that , perhaps,  given more time, she would have preferred experimenting with a stiffer cushion after all.

But lets not change the cushion dimensions, as I've seen some do. I've sat in some versions that have been modified with the back cushion higher, and it  really improves the comfort level, but it completely ruins the aesthetic beyond my tolerance . I don't think ergonomics or comfort really entered into Charlottes thinking as much , as did  the modernist machine aesthetic, and the requirement in Corbu's brief ,likely  insisting on something avant guard, that he needed to work with his starck interiors. 

The moduar cubic volume seems to work well as a  single , or pair anywhere in a rooms' interior. They  insert,  or in Corbu's room designs, maintain,  some form of orthogonality,  or grid into the space.

I do also prefer locating them where you can see the complete chrome structural " basket" extending around the rear. This sort of exposed structural exoskeleton must have been a radical step given the alternative heavily stuffed upholstery of furniture common at that time. 

I also wonder what motivated her decision to make the bottom rail a smaller diameter than the upper rail? I can  speculate that a prototype might of had only an upper rail, it then would have looked even cleaner, but she probably discovered that,  practically , a lower rail was needed to completely  contain the cushions, and so she had to reluctantly give-in to a second row, albeit choosing a thinner diameter pipe. It was a good choice. Thank you Charlotte!

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