Le Corbusier (1887 – 1965) was a Swiss-French architect, designer, painter, urban planner, writer, modern furniture designer, and one of the pioneers of what is now called modern architecture. He was born in Switzerland and became a French citizen in 1930. His career spanned five decades, with his buildings constructed throughout Europe, India, and America.
Dedicated to providing better living conditions for the residents of crowded cities, Le Corbusier was influential in urban planning, and was a founding member of the Congrès International d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM).
Swiss born, Charles-douard Jeanneret-Gris spent his youth travelling through Europe, coming in contact, among other things, with the Sezession environment in Vienna and with Gropius and Mies van der Rohe in Berlin. In his early thirties, he opened his legendary architecture studio in Paris.
His collaborations with his cousin Pierre Jeanneret and with Charlotte Perriand were decisive. Together, they presented a revolutionary one-room studio apartment at the Salon d'Automne in Paris in 1929, with furniture pieces which embodied the modernist spirit. They were conceived as instruments suitable for furnishing spaces built for the modern man, which explains why Le Corbusier loved to speak of "quipement." These furnishings had to be utilitarian, an expression of their function. The new value proposed by the coupling of form and function: the object, stripped of its ornaments, recovers its implacable and intimate sense of beauty, expressing its very nature in the harmony of its new form, simple and essential. The public's reaction was predictably hostile. But as fate would have it, the legend was awaiting.
Paradoxically, Le Corbusier combined a passion for classical Greek architecture and an attraction to the modern machine. He published his ideas in a book entitled, Vers une Architecture, in which he refers to the house as a "machine for living," an industrial product that should include functional furniture or "equipment de l'habitation." In this spirit, Le Corbusier co-designed a system of furniture with his cousin Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand. The tubular steel furniture – including the famous LC4 Chaise Longue and LC2 and LC3 seating collections – projected a new rationalist aesthetic that came to epitomize the International Style.
Corbusier was both credited and criticized for his reinvention of the modern urban skyline – the efficient, yet austere buildings that he pioneered in Paris' banlieues were the setting of a massive riot in 2005. Though Le Corbusier's illustrious career came to abrupt end in 1965 when he drowned while swimming in the Mediterranean Sea off Roquebrune-Cap-Martin in France, his influence is undisputed.