Cover Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock Holmes lounges in the LC3 armchair in the BBC TV series (Image: Courtesy of BBC)

Renowned architect Le Corbusier is widely regarded as one of the pioneering leaders of the modernist design movement. Here, we discuss the history of his famed chair designs that are frequently seen on screen

Renowned Swiss-French architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, better known by his pseudonym Le Corbusier, is widely considered as one of the most pioneering architects of the 20th century. 

Often credited for his crucial role in leading and defining the modernist movement, Le Corbusier is also the mastermind behind a system of furniture that is often credited as a key collection leading to the golden age of modern furniture; of which, his seating collections are often deemed as some of his most famous furniture pieces.

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Boasting a timeless appeal, the most notable chairs that Le Corbusier created include the LC2 and LC3 armchairs, as well as the LC4 chaise lounge. The collection of chairs were designed together with his cousin and long-time business partner Pierre Jeanneret as well as a young, rising French architect Charlotte Perriand.

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The chairs made their debut at the 1929 Parisian art exhibition Salon d’Automne, as part of Le Corbusier’s classic furniture line. Featuring a durable tubular steel frame structure that houses polyurethane foam padding, the chairs embody an inviting character that beckons one to sink into them for long hours.

The sleek cube-like design is seen as Le Corbusier’s modernist reinterpretation of the traditional club chairs that were popular in the early 1920s.

The LC2 is often referred to as the petit confort due to its smaller structure with a higher seat and back; the LC3, on the other hand, is known as the grand comfort due to its larger and wider size that perches lower on the ground. The LC4 has a longer moniker—La Machine à Repos (the "rest machine" in French)—which exemplifies its refined design that mirrors the body’s natural curves to provide the utmost comfort.

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With their timeless appeal, the plush classics have flourished as on-screen darlings. The LC3 armchair famously appeared as the comfortable thinking spot of Benedict Cumberbatch’s titular character in the BBC series Sherlock Holmes.

Film buffs will recognise the LC2 and LC3 pieces that decorate Maude Lebowski’s art studio in The Big Lebowski, as well as the LC3 sofas in Judy, the 2019 biographical drama film of American actress Judy Garland. The LC4 chaise lounge made its most recent appearance on Netflix’s Korean drama hit Mine.

Outside of films, the LC3 armchair even made an appearance on the stage of a 2010 Apple event where then CEO Steve Jobs sat on it to introduce the iPad

When the striking series of chairs first made their appearance, they were first produced by different manufacturers under licence. In 1965, Italian furniture manufacturer Cassina secured the rights as the sole authorised manufacturer to produce the designs.

Since then, the chairs have been produced with the utmost artisanal craftsmanship that’s in accordance with the original design. With their gleaming structure and expressive personality, the chairs remain a constant favourite to this day.

The Le Corbusier chairs and other designs manufactured by Cassina is available at: W.Atelier in Singapore | Atelier A+ in Hong Kong | H.N. Lin Enterprise in Taipei, Taiwan | Casa Bella Home and Living in Philippines

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