Pierre Jeanneret, the famed Swiss born architect, was born in Geneva on March 22nd in 1896. He attended the School of Fine Arts, “Ecole des Beaux-Arts” and quickly became a renowned architect and furniture designer alongside some of the era’s most prominent names in modern design.

His cousin was famous architect and designer Charles-Edouard Jeannerret-Gris, aka Le Corbusier. Jeanneret would go on to work alongside his cousin for most of his career. Le Corbusier was happy to take Jeanneret under his wing and present him with the opportunity to learn from his experience, network, and creative process. Their partnership officially began in 1922 when the two opened an architectural practice with close friend and designer, Charlotte Perriand from 1927-1937.

They created furniture such as the ‘LC4’ Chaise Lounge Chair pictured below. Their designs favored function and order over embellishment. The materials they used were highly luxurious leathers and hides for upholstery with chrome tubes to frame the pieces. While working together they also developed the “Five Points Towards a New Architecture,” a theory of design which set the stage for modern architecture today. Their design of the famous Villa Savoye, completed in 1928, is a perfect example of the modern structural ideals the two worked within. Check out our blog on Le Corbusier to learn more about the Five Points Towards a New Architecture.

Woman reclining in the famous ‘LC4’ by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret

Although creatively the two were seemingly on the same page, they personally clashed. Around the time of World War II, the two had a rift that would last for almost 10 years. Close friends and family speculated that it may have been due to differences in political views. Nonetheless, the design world rejoiced as the two joined forces again in the 1950’s. After the war had ended, the two stated that their time apart was merely due to practicality.

Le Corbusier was overseeing a project in India and insisted Jeanneret join him. It was probably the biggest project of Le Corbusier’s career at the time – to design the first planned city of India’s Chandigarh. The project was commissioned by India Prime Minister, Jawaharal Nehru. Nehru believed heavily in the project, stating that it represented “the nation’s faith in the future.” Le Corbusier was to design residential, commercial and industrial areas, including parks and government buildings. He insisted they hire his cousin, Jeanneret to assist him. While Corbusier would handle high-level aspects of the design, while Jeanneret was in charge of executing ideas and processes.

Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru speaking with Le Corbusier

One of Jeanneret’s biggest contributions to the city’s redesign was the furniture. Jeanneret used inexpensive, locally sourced teak to design his highly sought after chairs. The bug and humidity resistant teak material could weather the hot and humid climate of the city. He would also use locally sourced bamboo, iron rod, rope, cotton and upholstery. Even the craftsmanship was executed by residents and artisans of the city. The designs were robust and sturdy; a nod to Jeanneret and Le Corbusier’s design theory that simplicity and function are superior to embellishment. 

A few years after the project had been completed, Le Corbusier would return to France. Jeanneret, however, fell in love with the city, rarely returning home. He said Chandigarh is where he found his confidence, and the city held a special place in his heart. At his request, his ashes were even spread at the city’s Sukhna Lake.

Le Corbusier (right) and Pierre Jeanneret (left) admiring the city they designed

For Jeanneret, the city’s redesign was spiritual. He felt every building would nurture it’s inhabitants with it’ interplay of space, light and air. His furniture designs reflected that same experience for its users. He wanted his furniture to hug the human shape and provide an ideal experience, whether you are conversing with your friends or taking a nap.  

Because of this attention to detail and obsession with user experience, his designs are highly sought after today. Unfortunately, the city of Chandigarh began to deteriorate by the 1980s, and much of Jeanneret’s furniture was left out to rot; succumbing to heavy use, high temperatures and extreme humidity. However collectors continue to source Jeanerret’s furniture designs with the hopes of bringing back the chairs to life.

Collection of Jeanneret chairs stacked in Chandigarh, India. Some of the city’s greatest treasures lay stacked like waste.

This pair of unrestored Committee Armchairs pictured below sold at a recent auction for $8,750. Although the pair is quite worn, the original structure alone can still bring high 4 high figure values.

Toomey & Co. Auctioneers

Greenwich Living Antique & Design Center is happy to assist in sourcing your exclusive art and furniture. Although we do not currently have any Jeanneret chairs for sale, our experienced and extensive network of gallerist are sure to be able to help you. Email us at greenwichliving1@gmail.com for more info.