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Monday, November 14, 2011

Le Corbusier

Le Corbusier (1887-1965) was born Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris in La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland. He adopted the pseudonym Le Corbusier around 1920 for his architectural work and around 1930 for his painting.

He began his studies as an engraver and as a goldsmith but later studied architecture. In 1907 he went to work in the office of Auguste Perret, the French architect who pioneered the use of reinforced concrete. Later he studied architecture in Vienna with Josef Hoffmann, and in 1910 he took a position with Peter Behrens, where his colleagues were Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius.

During World War I, he returned to Switzerland to teach at his old school in La Chaux de Fonds. After the war, he returned to Paris and took French citizenship in 1930.

His most important architectural achievements were the Palace for the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, the Villa Savoye in Poissy, France and the Swiss Dormitory at the Cité Universitaire in Paris.

In addition to his fame for his place at the head of modern architecture, he was a designer, urban planner, writer and painter. His streamlined furniture, which he designed and produced in collaboration with his studio employee Charlotte Perriand, are considered modern classics.


LC-1 Basculant chair

LC-2 chair

LC-7 Revolving armchair

Chaise longue

Palace for League of Nations

Villa Savoye

Swiss Building

United Nations Secretariat

Le Corbusier visiting with Albert Einstein


  1. Amazing to get to know the people behind infamous designs. They're real people. Weird, but I forget that. Must be wild to have such an impace on the world.

  2. I really enjoy your blog because I learn so much about mid century modern and by the way, I toured your house on RMS and it's fabulous!

  3. @Tanya: Yes, I love that aspect of it too. I read that he met the beautiful American expatriate and singer/dancer/actress Josephine Baker on a voyage back to France from South America and sketched several nudes of her, married a fashion model and had a long extramarital affair with an American heiress. And yet he still had time to stay at the forefront of a whole architectural movement. Busy man! :)

  4. @LeAnn: It means a great deal to me to know that people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. Thanks! And thanks, too, for touring on RMS. I'm glad you liked that peek at my house. You reminded me that I need to take some photos of a few changes I've made!

  5. My old architectural drafting/architectural history professor ruined Le Corbusier for me. He was a bit of a Le Corbusier fanatic. We used sit through very dry half-day long (4-6 hour!) Powerpoints on his work, even going so far as to discuss all of the exact measurements and angles. Afterwards the professor would pick the name of one of his projects out of a hat and we were expected to draw it to scale FROM MEMORY! If it wasn't EXACTLY right, he would come and tear up your drawing and berate you in front of the whole class. So even though I appreciate his contribution to architecture and design, I just can't get over my aversion to everything Le Corbusier.

  6. He even found time to paint a mural in Eileen Gray's house without her approval. She would make a nice blog.

  7. @John Bachman: Yes, she's definitely on my list.

  8. @Nick: To be honest, his designs are not among my favorites. I'm sure that's why this post on him may be considered long overdue by some, since I've posted about many, many more obscure designers. Still, like you, I respect his contribution, and he does have an interesting life story.

    I can understand your aversion. I have a similar college memory about an upper level Shakespeare course, the only B I got in my major. Over 40 years have passed, and I still would like to throttle that professor.