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Asli Çiçek on A Life of Creation
11 February, 2021
Charlotte Perriand lived through almost the entire twentieth century – she was 96 years old when she died in 1999 and produced work for 70 years in a row. Though not usually attracted to autobiographies, I was very curious to read her story in her own words. As first-hand life stories tend to be, there are a few moments of self indulgence in her narrative, but luckily her humour dominates the tone. Because of this, perhaps, the book reads rather like a diary than an autobiography. Parallel to her different kinds of memories, Perriand actually gives a personal account on the birth of the modern movement. Much is written and said about that period, it undoubtedly forms a crucial chapter of the architectural education in Europe. Perriand’s report on the movement is personal, at times anecdotical, but precisely therefore it reveals the conflicts as much as the enthusiasm of the modernists. The influences of her stays in far-away countries on her works and thinking become clearer through her own words than through the reflections of others. I experienced the book as a rare chance to see the architectural history of twentieth century through the reflection of a very productive female designer, who at the end of 96 years, dropped her words from one century into the next.