Le Corbusier Style Defined

Le Corbusier stands among the giants of modernist style with an emphasis on minimalist, straightforward lines with no frills or excess.

By Lisa Frederick

Swiss-born architect and designer Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, better known as Le Corbusier, stands among the giants of modernist style. Although he's perhaps best known for his pioneering, egalitarian approach to urban planning and architecture, which paved the way for the Bauhaus aesthetic, his vision also extended to simple furnishings that are pure in form and function, designed to complement their surroundings. 

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Relaxing Transitional Library
TerraCotta Properties

The Basics

In his seminal book Vers une architecture, Le Corbusier described the house as "a machine for living in," and his furnishings bear out that conviction. He referred to furniture as "extensions of our limbs and adapted to human functions." Hence his emphasis on minimalist, straightforward lines with no frills or excess, as well as forms designed to suit bodily proportions and intended for different states of use (conversation, repose, and so forth).

These designers show how to incorporate Le Corbusier furnishings into your home:

Get the Look

Sprinkle in a selection of these iconic pieces to lend a dash of Le Corbusier's hallmark style to your home.

LC1 Sling Chair
Cassina

LC1 sling chair. In designing a home in Paris, Le Corbusier asked his colleague Charlotte Perriand to help create three chair styles for three different purposes: conversation, relaxation, and sleep. The results? The sling chair, the Grand Confort line, and the chaise longue, respectively (see below for more on the latter two). The sling chair's back shifts along with its occupant to provide continual comfort regardless of sitting position; as with many Le Corbusier pieces, its steel frame makes an arresting contrast with organic leather or hide upholstery. 

LC2 and LC3 Grand Confort seating. Arguably Le Corbusier's best-known collection, the Grand Confort series of sofas and chairs—featuring cubelike cushions set deep within tubular metal frames—represents a modern spin on traditional seating such as club chairs. The architect called these pieces "cushion baskets," an apt description of their inside-out structure (the frame is external, as opposed to concealed beneath padding and fabric). 

Le Corbusier Tube d'Avion LC6 Table
Modern Classics Furniture

LC4 chaise longue. Le Corbusier described this piece as "the ultimate relaxing machine," and one glance makes it evident why. The fluid, undulating lines of the chaise longue convey an air of rest and serenity. Designed for sleep, it's meant to follow the natural curvature of the human form, and its adjustable nature allows for changes in posture and position. A slim, built-in bolster supports the neck. 

LC5 daybed sofa. A quick, backward flick of the cushions and presto—this spare, lightweight sofa transforms into a sleeping surface. Upheld only by a slim steel frame, it appears to hover above the ground. 

LC6 table. With a floating glass top balanced on a welded metal base, the LC6 table represents a perfect confluence of beauty and practicality. Le Corbusier was fascinated by mathematical concepts such as the golden ratio (a complex principle that uses a numerical ratio to achieve pleasing proportions), and the table's arresting impact comes from its inherent mathematical harmony. 

LC7 swivel chair. The defining feature of this pivoting chair is its substantial, curved backrest. Inspired by car tires, the back was designed as a comfortable spot on which to lean as well as prop the arms. Le Corbusier and Perriand envisioned the chair for dining, but it's equally appropriate for offices and sitting areas. 

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