Early Years and Training
Born in 1896 in Geneva, Switzerland, Pierre Jeanneret attended the local École des Beaux-Arts, where he studied painting and architecture. Jeanneret was influenced from an early age by his cousin, famed architect Le Corbusier. Following a stint in the Swiss Army, Jeanneret began working with Le Corbusier to design various notable buildings and residences, including the iconic Villa Savoye northwest of Paris that was elevated by columns, built mostly of glass, and featured an open interior.
A Rift Between Cousins
Before long, Jeanneret also developed some innovative furniture designs in collaboration with Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand. The onset of World War II created a rift between the cousins: Jeanneret was sympathetic to Communism and the French Resistance, whereas Le Corbusier was partial to the Vichy Government and Italian Fascism. Only a monumental project brought them back together.
The Historic Chandigarh Project
In 1950, Le Corbusier was tasked with redesigning the historic city of Chandigarh in recently independent India and he asked Jeanneret to help him carry out the plan. While Le Corbusier articulated the large-scale concepts, Jeanneret helped refine his cousin’s designs and kept development on track. Jeanneret also created a wide range of elegantly simple furniture designs using local materials, such as insect-resistant Burma teak. In the middle of the project, Le Corbusier left Chandigarh, so Jeanneret took over the dual role of Chief Architect and Urban Planning Designer.
Death and Legacy
After fifteen years in India, Jeanneret fell ill and returned to France, dying in 1967. However, in keeping with Jeanneret’s will, his ashes were ultimately scattered on Sukhna Lake near Chandigarh. Today the furniture that Jeanneret designed, especially during his Chandigarh years, is in very high demand. Jeanneret’s signature chairs and other pieces are featured in the collections of various museums and regularly achieve high prices at auction.Contact a Specialist View all Artists/Makers