Charlotte Perriand - Design New York Tuesday, December 7, 2021 | Phillips
  • First conceived in 1954, the Tokyo bench remains one of Charlotte Perriand’s most versatile designs. Rendered in ash, the present model stands on three ovoid legs. Long rectangular slats form the seat of the bench, imbuing the piece with its impressive lateral character while also permitting the work to extend beyond its physical boundaries and create shadows on the floor underneath it.

    Perriand initially devised the bench for the home of her husband Jacques Martin, who in 1951 was named Director of Air France Regional Representation in Japan. This appointment afforded Perriand the opportunity to return to Japan over a decade after her employment by the Imperial Ministry of Commerce as an advisor for industrial art. During this particular sojourn, Perriand designed the Air France office furnishings in the recently completed Nikkatsu Building (Marunouchi District, Tokyo) and the interior of Martin’s Akasaka District home, which also served as a site for special Air France events. For the Akasaka residence, Perriand produced two categories of furniture: design for daily or family life and design for special occasions. The Tokyo Bench belonged to the latter category and was used for both seating and display purposes; Perriand placed cushions on the bench, which were complemented by a sculpture or potted plant resting on the uncovered slats.


    Installation photo from the Proposal for a Synthesis of the Arts exhibition, 1955. 

     Perriand exhibited two Tokyo benches in her 1955 exhibition Proposal for a Synthesis of the Arts at the Takashimaya department store (Nihonbashi District, Tokyo). The bench soon gained recognition in France when Galerie Steph Simon began to issue it in 1956. Indeed, one of its buyers included the Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris. With its capacity to fulfill a variety of functions including lounging, entertaining, and display, the Tokyo bench illuminates Perriand’s mastery of functional design for not only quotidian use, but for important occasions, too.

    • Provenance

      Likely acquired from DeLorenzo 1950, New York, by the present owner, circa 1991

    • Literature

      Jacques Barsac, Charlotte Perriand: Un Art d'Habiter, Paris, 2005, p. 430
      Jacques Barsac, Charlotte Perriand: Complete Works Volume 2, 1940-1955, Paris, 2015, pp. 442, 468-470, 473 for a longer version

    • Artist Biography

      Charlotte Perriand

      French • 1903 - 1999

      Trailblazer Charlotte Perriand burst onto the French design scene in her early 20s, seemingly undeterred by obstacles in an era when even the progressive Bauhaus school of design barred women from architecture and furniture design courses. She studied under Maurice Dufrêne at the École de l'Union Centrale des art Décoratifs, entering into a competition at the 1925 Expo des Arts Décoratifs by age 22 and gaining critical acclaim for her exhibition at the Salon d'Automne in 1927.

      On the heels of this success, that same year she joined the Paris design studio of Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret. For ten years the three collaborated on "equipment for living," such as the iconic tubular steel B306 Chaise Longue (1928). After World War II, Perriand joined forces with Jean Prouvé to create modernist furniture that combined the precise lines of Prouvé's bent steel with the soft, round edges and warmth of natural wood.

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Property from a Private East Coast Collection


"Tokyo" bench

circa 1956
10 3/4 x 88 7/8 x 29 1/8 in. (27.3 x 225.7 x 74 cm)
Issued by Galerie Steph Simon, Paris, France.

Full Cataloguing

$20,000 - 30,000 

Sold for $50,400

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New York Auction 7 December 2021