“La Roche, someone who has a fine collection like yours needs to build a house worthy of it.” - Le Corbusier
|During a recent jaunt to Paris, I paid a visit to Maison La Roche; the first of a series of experimental houses designed by Le Corbusier and his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret, in and around Paris during the 1920’s. Set on a modest plot of land at the end of a cul-de-sac located in the 16th arrondissement, Le Corbusier was in fact commissioned to design two houses here in 1923: a house (Maison Jeanneret) for his brother, Albert, and his family along with a combined house and art gallery (Maison La Roche) for his friend and Swiss compatriot, Raoul La Roche.|
Raoul La Roche was born in Basel and after training at business school in Neuchâtel, he settled in Paris in 1912 to pursue a career in finance. In 1918, he was introduced to Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, who adopted the name Le Corbusier in 1923, and along with his friend and artist, Amédée Ozenfant, they schooled La Roche in appreciating the purist painting they both championed and were producing themselves at the time. La Roche amassed a formidable collection of modern art, including works by Picasso, Braque and Léger, and commissioned Le Corbusier to design and build him a home that could combine a gallery to house his collection.
Whilst La Roche was quite clearly well-off, he lived a very simple and abstemious way of life and therefore wished for his house to have a discreet and rational aesthetic. He couldn’t have commissioned a better designer.
Maison La Roche is set over three floors:
Ground Floor – Reception Hall, Concierge and Kitchen
First Floor – Dining Room, Picture Gallery, Pantry and Roof Terrace
Second Floor – Library, Dressing Room, Bedroom and Bathroom
Le Corbusier also chose or designed all the furniture contained in the house. Along with the fixed concrete shelving and built-in storage units, his preference for industrially produced objects was revealed with his use of Thonet bentwood chairs (painted grey to match the hulking, industrial radiators) and the tubular Chalier wall lamps that appear throughout. He also designed a series of juxtaposable tables with wooden tops and nickel plated legs that could be used in any room which went on to be known as the ‘La Roche’ tables.
A restoration took place at Maison La Roche in 2009 and whilst this was mainly carried out from a conservation perspective, it was particularly aimed at restituting the original interior colour palette used by Le Corbusier. The use of a polychrome scheme at the time had been experimental but it went on to become a signature of not only the interiors of his future projects but also the facades. Similar tones from this palette can be seen amongst the new selection of enamel finishes that Cassina are producing for the steel frames on the Le Corbusier range of furniture they supply today.
Cassina have also just released a Limited Edition LC2 ‘Maison La Roche’ Armchair with the enamelled steel frame in a semi-gloss brown colour, Tobacco coloured natural leather upholstery and cushions filled just with feathers (no foam core) providing a very soft and sumptuous seat.
Anyone with an interest in Le Corbusier who finds themselves with a couple of hours to spare in Paris should head over to Maison La Roche, which now also houses the headquarters of the Fondation Le Corbusier.
Maison La Roche
10 Square du Docteur Blanche
Nearest Paris Metro station: Jasmin – line 9
Telephone: +33 (0)184.108.40.206.72
Tuesday to Saturday: 10.00-18.00