Masterpieces

The Free Form Table

Maryanna Estomba

This rare beauty by Charlotte Perriand is exemplary of the trailblazing architect's postwar oeuvre

Charlotte Perriand's Free Form Table is one of her most iconic and innovative designs. Born in Paris, Perriand (1903-1999) was a French architect-designer who was considered a standout among her mainly male contemporaries. At just 24 years old, she exhibited at the 1927 Salon d’Automne, where her Bar sous le Toit (Bar under the Roof) garnered great acclaim. A fixture of French avant-garde circles, she went on to work closely with major modernist figures, like Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, among others. Today she is celebrated as a trailblazer and a genius, not only for her innovative use of materials like glass, aluminum, and steel, but also for the humanist ideals she espoused, believing that great design should be available to all.

Free Form Table by Charlotte Perriand for Steph Simon, 1968. Photo © LAFFANOUR-Galerie Downtown

Perriand developed the formal vocabulary of the Free Form Table in the 1930s. One of the earliest representations is from 1937, when Perriand produced the first large Free Form Desk for the office of French writer Jean Richard Bloch, which had a concave top and a boomerang shape—intended to encourage the flow of conversation. Another iteration on the style was produced for the Borot residence in 1956— the Montmartre-sited apartment of Jean and Huguette Borot, whose home renovation was entrusted to Perriand. In 1957, at the Salon des Arts Ménagers, a Free Form Table was formally presented in Perriand's famous Japanese House, which featured interiors by Sori Yanagi. It was considered very unusual for its time.

Vintage photographs of Steph Simon Gallery. Courtesy of LAFFANOUR-Galerie Downtown

This Free Form Table, from the collection of LAFFANOUR-Galerie Downtown, was custom made in 1968, a special commission from legendary gallerist Steph Simon, in whose possession it remained in until it was acquired by Mr. Laffanour. It is made of dark mahogany and has a thick, asymmetrically elliptic top that rests on three legs, one elliptical and three cylindrical. It is one of the most emblematic pieces of Perriand's postwar oeuvre—and is among the rarest. ◆

Free Form Table by Charlotte Perriand for Steph Simon, 1968. Photo © LAFFANOUR-Galerie Downtown

The Free Form Table by Charlotte Perriand if available through LAFFANOUR-Galerie Downtown.

LAFFANOUR-Galerie Downtown specializes in 20th-century European and American masters of design, most of them architects of the 20th century. For the past 25 years, the gallery has organized thematic and monographic exhibitions on designers such as Jean Prouvé, Charlotte Perriand, Pierre Jeanneret, Le Corbusier, and Jean Royère.

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