“Christ seeks to make an abode in our
hearts. Human hearts that are in harmony with the Divine Word. If
we want Christ in our lives, we must offer up our hearts to Him. What a
precious thing! Our hearts can be their own nativity scene, if only we
have room for Christ.
Let us enlarge our hearts then, making room
to love God and neighbor, and resisting whatever inhibits this process.
This is the joyful work of re-creation, that is indeed ‘very good’.”
Between 1960 and 1961, Charlotte Perriand designed and built herself a small chalet in Meribel les Allues in France’s Savoie region - not far from the ski resorts she would later design in the area.
Even at first glance it is apparent that the building is a private and intimate place, a place of refuge for the spirit. Nesting on the side of a mountain and overlooking a valley, it has two floors, both of which are accessible from the outside, thanks to the natural slope of the ground. A large east facing terrace forms one access to the garden, and during the summer becomes an invaluable outdoor living space.
The chalet’s interior is very simple, with either wood or exposed stone evoking the brutalist aesthetic that had characterized much of Perriand’s work with Le Corbusier, but also taking root in the vernacular furniture of Savoie where her grandparents lived—a place she visited often as a child. Small details remind her Japanese years, a country she loved and where she spent many years during the 40s. It’s small scale, attention to comfort and simplicity of materials and design solutions call to mind the Cabanon that Le Corbusier had built for himself in Cote d'Azur, although Perriand’s chalet is slightly more spacious.
Whenever she needed a break, she would escape there, in her chalet next to a “singing river” as she wrote in her autobiography, A Life of Creation. She noted it was the perfect place for daydreaming despite the squirrels nibbling the roof’s damp proof membrane…