Le Corbusier’s Iconic LC4 Chaise

Ah the beloved re-issue! In case anyone out there in the trade ever needs to be reminded of our venerable antecedents, manufacturing behemoths like Herman Miller, Wittman, and Vitra (see Eames Chair, Edwards by Tuttle, and Wiggle Chair) seem to enjoy resuscitating past gems. But perhaps “resuscitating” is not the most carefully chosen word, because certain design icons never really stop breathing, no matter their age.

LC4 Chaise. Designed by Le Corbusier and re-issued by Cassina.

These choice designs not only transcend the ravages of time, they also continue to be a potent influence on contemporary concept and execution-note the myriad new incarnations of the Eames, just during the past year. Cassina of Italy chimes in on this trend with the “I Maestri Collection.” Dating back to the 60s, when the manufacturer acquired the exclusive world-wide license to reproduce product designed by Le Corbusier, this line of classical re-issues now includes work by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Gerrit Rietveld, and Franco Albini.

Le Corbusier’s Iconic LC4 Chaise

But let’s return to the master and his renowned LC4 Chaise. Debuting in 1929 (that makes it 80 years young, if you’re counting) at the Salon D' Automne in Paris, Le Corbusier’s furniture designs forged an aesthetic alliance with forward-thinking artists like Georges Rouault, Andre Derain, and Henri Matisse, each of whom challenged the artistic status quo. Le Corbusier’s chaise accomplished much the same: with its “industrial” materials, exposed structural elements, portable two-piece construction, and self-balancing adjustability, the LC4 chaise helped usher in a new era of slim-profiled and ultra-functional furniture.

The design is one of inspired simplicity: consisting of a frame of tubular chrome and an H-shaped base of painted steel, the LC4 chaise’s two-part structure enables infinite adjustability. The chair is self-balancing in any position. The user need simply move it along its supportive tubular arc to find the desired position, from upright to fully reclined (without the need for mechanical intervention!, the early press material reminds us). Cassina’s LC4 re-issue tempts with several new upholstery options, including the original black leather, a plush ponyhide print, and a vibrant red. The cradle is available in chrome or matte black.

The LC4 is one of those seminal pieces that bridges the divide between design and art. Perhaps this is why the chaise is on display in MOMA’s permanent collection. It’s also why-should you happen to be in the market for a $2,850 lounger-you should avoid knock-offs and look to Cassina, the only manufacturer to receive the stamp of authenticity from the Le Corbusier Foundation.

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