The Chandigarh chairs, perched today in the most exquisite of homes around the globe, have an interesting story behind them.
In the February of 1951, Swiss architect Charles-Edouard Jeanneret Gris set foot on Indian soil.
Le Corbusier, as he was known, was entrusted with the title of being the ‘Town Planner of Chandigarh’.
Among the most significant buildings that he designed in the city were the government offices and the Capitol Complex, comprising the Legislative Assembly, Secretariat, and High Court.
Le Corbusier was joined by an exceptional team of architects including Maxwell Fry, Jane Drew, and Indian architects Aditya Prakash, Urmila Eulie Chowdhury, Balkrishna Doshi, and Le Corbusier’s cousin Pierre Jeanneret.
And that is where the story of the Chandigarh chairs begins.
Pierre, who was handling the residential designs came up with a simple teak and cane idea that stuck to its ideals of being minimalistic.
The chair was curiously and yet simply shaped with its legs in a V formation, polished with a natural finish, and was visible everywhere — right from middle-class homes to the most exclusive offices.
Meanwhile, Le Corbusier and Pierre had completed what they set out to do with respect to the planning of Chandigarh and they left the country around 1965.
But in time, new brands and companies began emerging with their innovative designs, flashy colours and enticing creations, and the humble Chandigarh chairs were being replaced.
In the 90s, these chairs were being dumped and left out in the harsh weather which rendered them unfit for use.
While it seemed like their fate had been sealed, things took a turn when international dealers and auctioneers noticed these chairs and were drawn to them.
Eric Touchaleaume of Galerie 54, François Laffanour, Philippe Jousse, and Patrick Seguin among others began collecting these chairs.
In an article for Architectural Digest, Laffanour is quoted saying, “We said, let’s take the risk of buying these, and we’ll see what happens.”
Today, the chairs are a draw in some of the most elite rooms in the world and one cannot help but remember their humble beginnings.