Swiss architect and designer Pierre Jeanneret (1896 – 1967) collaborated with his well-known cousin Charles Edouard Jeanneret (aka Le Corbusier) for about twenty years. Pierre Jeanneret was brought on to design the furniture for India’s city of Chandigarh, at the urging of Le Corbusier (who was the project’s architect). Chandigarh was a new modern model of a city conceived by Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister. Nehru’s intention for Chandigarh (named for Chandi, Hindu goddess of power) was to create a city that would “be a new town, symbolic of the freedom of India, unfettered by the traditions of the past.” Le Corbusier was hired to create a master plan for the city, and it was to become his largest and most ambitious project, involving residential, commercial, industrial areas, parks and a complex of government buildings. Jeanneret designed furniture for the entire project, using inexpensive locally-sourced bug and humidity resistant teak. During his partnership with Corbusier, Jeanneret also worked with Charlotte Perriand and they joined forces with Jean Prouvé in 1940 to research the potential of prefabricated housing. Jeanneret, sympathizing with the Communists, joined the French resistance, while Corbusier’s authoritarian leanings let him to elicit work from the Vichy Government and Italian Fascists. Jeanneret, inspired by the local traditional craftsmanship “cobbled together” rudimentary, yet ingenious furniture with bamboo sticks, iron rods, rope, can and straps. Eventually, he created more evolved “low-cost” furniture pieces, classified according to their leg shape, “V, X, Y and Z.” Most pieces were held together with two screws, and sometimes no screws at all. Jeanneret developed pieces for Knoll International, however, it was his time in Chandigarh that most profoundly affected him.

Pierre Jeanneret Office Chairs

Jeanneret’s Office Chairs c. 1956, showcase his upside down “V” leg design. The chair is constructed of teak with a cane seat and backrest that seems to float in space.

The Committee Armchair, c. 1953, a more elegant chair in teak and leather with detached armrests and rounded cuffs and “V” leg design. All the leather used in the Chandigarh project was from cows that died of natural causes.