Chair Crazy: Dames of Thrones
The addiction to the currently trending television series, Game of Thrones, has spread like wild fire all over the world. The burning question being “Who will get to sit on the Iron Throne?”
Love it or hate it, you cannot deny the refreshingly powerful representation of women (problematic though this may be) – not only those who wield real power, who are backed by massive, loyal armies, dragons, or piles of gold, but those who have contributed to moving the story forward – being the backbone of this fantastic tale!
For now, let’s not question these creative choices, but instead celebrate them, Chair Crazy style, by looking at some of the most influential women in furniture design.
There are far too many successful women designers to mention, so let us look at two women who blazed a trail in this formerly male-centric industry both of whom remain relevant, inspiring, and influential to this day.
Ray Eames is THE most iconic female designer in modern design history. In a time when gender equality was lacking, her husband Charles noted: “Anything I can do, Ray can do better.”
It is hard to speak about either of them without including the other, but we all know who wears the pants in any functional relationship.
America’s quintessential creative team, Charles & Ray Eames, worked in just about every medium imaginable, from moulded plastics, to cast aluminium, metal and wood,
This couple, more than any other designer, helped shape California and American Modernism in the early 1950s.
Ray and husband Charles created more than a fashion or a “look” with their iconic designs. They had a genuine desire to make a better world, one in which objects were designed to fulfil the practical needs of ordinary people and bring greater simplicity and pleasure to our lives.
Combining imagination and thought, art and science, Charles and Ray Eames created some of the most influential expressions of 20th-century design – furniture that remains stylish, fresh and functional today.
You probably know them best by some of our favourite pieces:
One of their most famous designs was the 1956 Lounge Chair, which was pioneering as its two-directional curve was created from laminate plywood (unseen by the world at that point in time).
The feisty and headstrong Game of Thrones character, Ayra Starke, scorns traditions and typical notions of femininity – taking up arms from a tender age and fighting for her place in the world. Similarly, as a young woman, Charlotte Perriand wholeheartedly embraced the use of steel – a medium previously used only by men – as her material of choice to convey newfound expressions of modern design.
She was “dazzled” by the writings of Le Corbusier which was in alignment with the way in which she herself designed. By her own account, when she arrived at his atelier with her portfolio in hand, seeking a position, he dismissively told her, “We don’t embroider cushions in my studio.” Charlotte was not discouraged by his degrading comment, and instead plucked up the courage to invite him to the Salon d’Automne to view her work. Le Corbusier – recognizing a kindred spirit after seeing her Bar sous le toit design – agreed to hired her.
Charlotte Perriand got her start co designing 3 chairs with Le Corbusier and his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret – one for sleeping, one for conversation, and one for sleeping – for Corbusier’s studio in 1928.
Due to Le Corbusier’s legendary reputation, he is often given sole credit for the conception and design of these chairs. However, as with any highly collaborative undertaking, giving credit to any single individual is problematic. And let’s face it – more so when women had a starring role! Perriand credits Le Corbusier with the framework of the overall forms of the chairs and his role in design direction, however, asserted that she had fleshed out the details, construction, and actual design with Pierre Jeanneret.
To this day, these pieces are still sold by the Italian furniture company Cassina, which credits all three as the designers. Perriand’s influence in the atelier extended beyond furniture and execution of the prototypes. In 1929 she was instrumental in designing the trio’s vision of modern luxury, “Equipment for the Home,” for the Salon d’Automne; it included an entire apartment, complete with a shiny kitchen and bathroom.
Perriand went on to further develop a “populist and egalitarian philosophy of furniture design” and became one France’s most prolific and collected furniture designers of the 20th century. Her career went on for 75 years until her death in 1999. Truly a strong contender for the coveted Iron Throne!
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