October 11, 2015


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Lot 15: Le Corbusier

Lot 15: Le Corbusier

Kitchen cabinet from Unite d'Habitation, Marseille

Designed c. 1952


45.5" x 91.75" x 17"

Designed together with Charlotte Perriand. Another example of this design was exhibited at "Designing Modern Women, 1890—1990," Museum of Modern Art, New York, October 5, 2013—October 19, 2014.
Literature: Le Corbusier: Unité d'Habitation in Marseille and the Four Other Unite Blocks in Rezé-les-Nantes. J. Sbriglio. 2004. 79-80.
Estimate: $20,000 - $30,000
Inventory Id: 20014

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The Unité d'Habitation apartment complex in Marseille, France is a Le Corbusier (1887–1965) architectural masterwork and regarded as one of the most influential modernist structures ever built. Completed in 1952, the Unité d'Habitation, French for "Housing Unit," realizes his vision of a "vertical garden city" in which residents live, shop, play, and interact as a community. In its 63 years of existence, the 12-story concrete tower with 337 apartments has proven to be as popular with tenants as with historians–not least for its airy duplex units with intelligent built-in furnishings.

The kitchens, a particular success, were devised by architect and furniture designer Charlotte Perriand (1903–1999). She was a longtime collaborator of Le Corbusier, and the principal spirit behind such famed seating pieces as the Grand Confort armchair and the B306 Chaise Longue. (Perhaps it is not altogether surprising that Le Corbusier tasked Perriand with the kitchen plan. A confirmed male chauvinist, the architect first sent Perriand away when she applied for employment in 1927, telling her: "We don't embroider cushions here.") For the project, Perriand designed sleek, efficient shelving and cupboards, with panels painted in bright primary colors (which were possibly influenced by the work of her friend, the artist Fernand Léger). Here she explored the simple and elegant forms she would use later in her 1950s work with artisan, designer, and engineer Jean Proué, such as the bookcases and other furnishings for the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris.

In 2009 the Museum of Modern Art in New York purchased an entire kitchen from the Unité d'Habitation for its permanent collection. Though originally wall-mounted, the unit in the present lot has been modified slightly with the addition of legs to be used as a standing cabinet.

"Charlotte Perriand, Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret), Pierre Jeanneret Revolving Armchair 1928." MoMA. The Museum of Modern Art, 2015. Web. Aug 20, 2015. Sbriglio, Jacques. Le Corbusier: Unité d'Habitation in Marseilles and the Four Other Unité Blocks in Rezé -les-Nantes, Berlin, Briey En Forêt and Firminy. Paris: Foundation Le Corbusier, 2004. Print. 79-80.