Unraveling the Legacy of the Swiss Architect Who Helped Shape a City
Pierre Jeanneret, a Swiss architect and designer, is a name synonymous with modern architecture and design. Born on March 22, 1896, in Geneva, Switzerland, Jeanneret, alongside his more famous cousin Le Corbusier, left an indelible mark on the field of architecture and urban planning. Although often overshadowed by his celebrated cousin, Pierre Jeanneret’s contributions to the design world, particularly in India, are monumental. This article aims to unravel the legacy of this design icon, focusing on his career, his partnership with Le Corbusier, and his timeless furniture designs.
Early Life and Career
Pierre Jeanneret studied architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts in Geneva, Switzerland. After completing his studies in 1921, he began working in his cousin Charles-Édouard Jeanneret’s (known as Le Corbusier) architectural practice. This marked the beginning of a lifelong professional partnership and friendship.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Pierre Jeanneret and Le Corbusier collaborated on a number of iconic projects, including the design of Villa Savoye in Poissy, France, and the Swiss Pavilion at the Cité Internationale Universitaire in Paris. These projects showcased their commitment to modernist principles, such as functionality, minimalism, and the use of new materials and technologies.
The Chandigarh Project
In 1950, Pierre Jeanneret and Le Corbusier were invited to India by the first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, to design and build a new capital for the Indian state of Punjab, called Chandigarh. This ambitious project aimed to create a modern, progressive city that would symbolize a newly independent India.
Pierre Jeanneret, PJ-SI-33-C Caned Bench, circa 1955-1956£16,000.00
Pierre Jeanneret Kangaroo Chair, circa 1955£27,000.00
Pierre Jeanneret, “Office” Chair, circa 1955£17,000.00
Pierre Jeanneret, Pair of Easy Armchairs, circa 1955£32,000.00
Pierre Jeanneret for Chandigarh, Teak Three-Folding Screen, c. 1957£12,000.00
Jeanneret Easy Chairs, Mid-Century Modern Chandigarh, 1965£8,000.00
Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, Charlotte Perriand LC1 Chair by Cassina, 2010£5,000.00
Le Corbusier & Pierre Jeanneret “Lawyer Chair”, 1955£16,000.00
Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand for Cassina ‘Basculant’ Chair Model 301£4,500.00
Pierre Jeanneret played a significant role in the Chandigarh project, working as the Chief Architect and Urban Planning Advisor. He designed numerous buildings, including the Gandhi Bhawan at Punjab University, the High Court, and the Assembly Hall. Jeanneret also developed a modular system for building low-cost housing, which was vital for the city’s growth.
Pierre Jeanneret’s furniture designs, often overshadowed by his architectural work, are now considered design classics. His furniture pieces were functional, minimalist, and utilized locally sourced materials like teak and cane. His most famous design, the “Chandigarh Chair,” features a V-shaped leg structure and a caned seat and back. These chairs were initially designed for government offices in Chandigarh, but have since become highly sought after by design enthusiasts and collectors worldwide.
Pierre Jeanneret passed away on December 4, 1967, in Geneva, Switzerland. Despite being overshadowed by his cousin Le Corbusier, Jeanneret’s work has gained recognition over time, and his influence on the world of design is undeniable.
Today, Pierre Jeanneret’s architectural and furniture designs continue to be celebrated and studied by architects, designers, and historians worldwide. His commitment to modernism, functionality, and a forward-thinking approach to design remains an inspiration for generations to come. As we celebrate the life and work of this design icon, let us remember that Pierre Jeanneret’s legacy is not just about the buildings and furniture he created, but also the profound impact he had on the development of modern architecture and design as we know it today.