Mary McLeod explored the relationship between Le Corbusier’s architecture and the emergence of the New Woman in France after World War I, and the special contribution by designer Charlotte Perriand to the developments in his oeuvre.
In her lecture Mary McLeod looked into changing gender identities and social conditions (such as women working and the so-called servant crisis) and how these affected Le Corbusier’s vision of domestic living in the 1920s. She discussed the influence of Charlotte Perriand on the atelier’s designs, as well as the role of an emerging domestic reform movement in Germany and France (especially the writings of Paulette Bernège) on Le Corbusier’s view of modern living. One theme that was considered is the new importance that the kitchen gained in his work in the late 1920s as exemplified by his project for the Salon d’Automne apartment of 1929 among others. As part of her lecture, McLeod showed a short film of 1931, Pierre Chenal’s L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui, in which Le Corbusier presents three of his villas from the late 1920s.
Mary McLeod is a Professor of Architecture at Columbia University, New York. She is an authority in the fields of history of the Modern Movement and contemporary architecture theory, especially the connections between architecture and ideology. The ground-breaking essay that made her fame was ‘Everyday and “Other” Spaces’ (1996), in which she presented a critique of avant-gardist practices in architecture from a feminist perspective. As an expert on French modern architecture of the interwar period of the twentieth century she published widely on the work of Charlotte Perriand, among others she was the editor of and contributor to the book ‘Charlotte Perriand: An Art of Living’. She also initiated and helped curate the exhibition ‘Charlotte Perriand: Interior Equipment’, held at the Urban Center in New York.
The lecture of Mary McLeod was organized by the Jaap Bakema Study Centre as a follow-up to the events Feminisms in Architecture of April 6, 2017, and the Wikipedia edit-a-thon Unforgetting Women Architects of June 8, 2017, also held at Het Nieuwe Instituut. The lecture is scheduled in conjunction with the exhibition ‘European Women in Architecture 1918-2018’, in show at the Faculty of Architecture, TU Delft, between 7-23 June 2017.