Le Corbusier’s Pavillon de l’Esprit Nouveau Named One of “20 Designs That Defined the Modern World”

Courtesy of ADAGP, Paris 2015 Courtesy of ADAGP, Paris 2015

Creator of London’s Design Museum and columnist for CNN, Stephen Bayley named Le Corbusier’s Pavillon de l’Esprit Nouveau as one of, “20 designs that defined the modern world.” Before Bayley lays out the list, he gives a brief history and several definitions of design; culminating to his conclusion that design gives life meaning. Bayley writes, “Le Corbusier declared that design is ‘intelligence made visible’. That’s certainly true, but intelligence can take many forms…” [1]

Designed and exhibited at the Paris Exposition des Arts Décoratifs of 1925, Corbu’s Pavillon was part of a larger project entitled, “Plan for a Modern City of 3,000,000 Inhabitants.” [2] The design, complete with a rooftop terrace, anticipated challenges of the future, such as overpopulation, by maximizing a typical urban dweller’s home. Corbu utilized built-in furniture such as cabinets, shelves, and wardrobes to make the

Courtesy of ADAGP, Paris 2015
of a small space. One could say it was the first, “tiny house,” of its time.

Courtesy of ADAGP, Paris 2015 Courtesy of ADAGP, Paris 2015

Despite defiance from the Organizing Committee of the Exhibition, no money or formal site, Corbu, “wrote the rules of Modernism,” [1] with the Pavillon de l’Esprit Nouveau (according to Bayley). With his design of the Pavillon, Corbu made architecturally political statements. He rejected ornateness. He wanted to show the world that the pure forms created by industry (the standardization of mass production) had value. Corbu revolutionized modern interiors by emphasizing function.

According to CNN, the other 19 designs that defined the modern world are:

[1910] The bra
[1915] Coca-Cola bottle
[1923] Ur-Leica camera
[1927] Duralex Picardie glass
[1931] London Tube map
[1949] CH24 chair
[1950] Rimowa suitcase
[1956] Braun SK4 record player
[1957] Sputnik satellite
[1958] Austin FX4 taxi
[1959] Mini car
[1960] Mini skirt
[1967] Sgt. Pepper’ record sleeve
[1979] Brompton bike
[1981] Sony Walkman
[1981] Carlton room divider
[1996] Laleggera chair
[2007] iPhone

To read more about how Corbu’s masterpiece ended up on the same list as “the bra,” click here.

1. Bayley, Stephen. “Our List of the 20 Designs That Defined the Modern World.” CNN, Cable News Network, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., 2017.
2. “Pavillon De L'Esprit Nouveau, Paris, France, 1924.” Foundation Le Corbusier, Foundation Le Corbusier.

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