Ombra Tokyo Chair
The Ombra Tokyo chair was designed for the 1954 Synthèse des Arts exhibition in Tokyo that featured the work of Charlotte Perriand, Le Corbusier, and Férnand Léger. Perriand’s inspiration was the gentle folds that characterize Japanese origami – here rendered in single die-pressed plywood rather than paper.
A supreme example of Perriand’s mastery of volumes, the Ombra Tokyo chair is shaped by the inherent salient thinness of the pressed plywood that Perriand has gracefully manipulated in the most profoundly fluid ways. The legs of Ombra Tokyo appear as though they have been cut and folded from the continuous seat and back – these splayed verticals exquisitely form gently upturned “feet” as they approach the floor. The back of Ombra Tokyo chair has been bifurcated by a single vertical cut that flows into a beautifully articulated, curved rectilinear void – allowing space to move through the chair’s form, further reinforcing the levity of the design.
In her eight-decade career, Charlotte Perriand contributed to countless design projects that allowed her to experiment with material. She explored working with tubular steel furniture, natural pieces in ebonized wood, bamboo furniture in Japan, and more. Paying close attention to the functionality of the furniture and the arrangement of the interior environment, Perriand designed pieces that were meant to be comfortably used and enjoyed in a space, as evidenced in her famed 1959 daybed or curved-back LC7 chair. Her revolutionary user-centric approach helped establish her as a seminal figure in the modernist design movement whose legacy endures to this day.
Not long after graduating from Ecole de L'Union Centrale de Arts Decoratifs in Paris, Perriand impressed critics with “Bar Under the Roof,” an installation featuring an aluminum and chrome bar counter and card table presented at the Salon d’Automne in 1927. The showcase established her as an avant-garde talent to watch and wowed a personal icon of hers, Le Corbusier—who invited her to join his studio and work on furniture designs with him and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret. The trio went on to craft some of the most enduring modern furniture pieces of the 20th century, such as the widely collected LC4 chaise longue, today produced by Cassina.
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