Images courtesy of Édition Monumental.

[NSFW] Le Corbusier’s LC4 Chair: Design Icon and... Porn Fixture?

Augustine and Josephine Rockebrune discovered 800 pornographic films where the famous chaise lounge isn't exactly used for resting.

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Mar 22 2017, 5:40pm

Images courtesy of Édition Monumental.

This article originally appeared on Creators France. 

A few weeks ago, I still thought of the famous LC4 chair designed by Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, a.k.a., Le Corbusier, as a monumental furnishing for elegant, brutalist-inspired interiors. Leather, steel, refined lines: the chaise lounge, a collaboration between the great Swiss architect and the French designer Charlotte Perriand, is the ultimate symbol of minimalist sophistication. That's why you find it in countless magazines, movies, and video clips that want to look "modern."

However, I must admit that I overlooked iconic chair's instrumental role in a totally different area. When I discovered We Don't Embroider Cushions Here, a new book by Augustine and Josephine Rockebrune, I understood that porn producers didn't miss out on its lascivious structure, either. In other words: the LC4 isn't only a design icon, it's also a porn fixture. The Rockebrune sisters sought to find every porn film in which the seat appears, whether for bondage, blowjobs, threesomes… It didn't take me long before I decided to contact the mysterious duo to learn more about their project.

Sasha Grey in "Feeding Frenzy 9" (2009)

Creators: First, could you tell us who you are?

Rockebrune sisters: We're Augustine and Josephine Rockebrune. We're twins and artists. Born on January 25th 1995, the same day Eric Cantona famously kung-fu kicked a Crystal Palace supporter.

OK. So, where does the idea of the book come from?

The idea emerged from a strange and uncanny coincidence. While looking for photos of the American author Tom Wolfe on Google, an image of two men having sex on the LC4 suddenly appeared, basically jumping off our screen. It turned out that the author Wolfe has a namesake gay porn star. We'd just read Charlotte Perriand's autobiography, A Life of Creation, and we immediately began researching porn sites to find out whether this alternative use of this world famous and iconic chaise lounge as a sex prop was a widespread phenomenon. It turned out that it wasn't a solo finding, in fact, the LC4 was a major prop star in the adult film industry. It seemed an interesting way of seeing the role of design.

How did you find all the porn featuring the LC4 chair?

In the beginning it was done just by hard work, meticulously rummaging through various porn sites, and watching a lot of clips. We had a real breakthrough when we realized that the LC4 seemed to be a standard prop for certain specific pornographic film studios. They used it extensively in their films, which made it possible for us to spot similarities in the interiors of the locations.

Charlotte Perriand in the LC4 chaise lounge

Did you change your methods?

After finding, meticulously documenting, and identifying actresses, production companies and the year of each featured film for the first 100 scenes, we changed our methodology in order to speed up the process. This was inspired by how the American sculptor Tony Smith created his iconic piece Die (1968)—a six-foot cube of quarter-inch hot-rolled steel he made by calling a welding company. We then found out that India was one of the worlds biggest consumers of internet porn, so we employed an internet workforce in India and paid them to hunt down the material needed. As a salute to Le Corbusier, we only hired people working out of Chandigarh. They seemed very happy about getting paid to watch porn. Rembrandt, Rubens, and Van Dyck all used studio assistants, so we felt we were following a bona fide art tradition. When we eventually felt we had enough material for a book, we started watching every single scene in which the chaise lounge appears, whether in the foreground, middle ground, or background, in order to make the most interesting frame grabs/screenshots.

Renee Pornero & Victoria Sin dans "Share the Load 2" (2005)

You—well, your assistants and you—really have an eye for it. It's not always easy to spot! How many porn movies have you watched thus far?

Our collection consists of more than 800 titles.

Was it funny, embarrassing, interesting?

During the course of the project we have been experiencing a very varied spectrum of emotions, but it has never been embarrassing. Despite what people might think, that this would be very satisfying and pleasurable to watch, it is immensely mentally draining to watch porn in these quantities. It corrupts the mind a bit, and you end up being completely numb to what's going on on the screen, because your focus is the chair, not the porn. But someone had to do it, just like when Beatriz Colomina examined Playboy Magazine so wonderfully.

Your work seems to draw a sort of parallel between Charlotte Perriand and the women featured: You only mention actress' names, suggesting they are the only ones to be credited here—the LC4 chair, on the contrary, is remembered as a Le Corbusier's creation, though it may have been designed solely by Perriand.

Leaving it out is just a simple way of amplifying the narrative, letting the reader/viewers imaginations fill out the blanks by themselves, and completing the work in their own minds. The pages of this book will set off an array of personal meaning to each reader, we'd rather make suggestive images, without explaining everything. There's a parallel here, but we'll leave that to the reader to find out, allow them to make their own interpretation.

The title of the book refers to words Le Corbusier addressed to Perriand when she offered to work with him. Were you surprised when you first learned this story?

Not really. You can't denounce Le Corbusier for being a great architect, but in his personal life, he seems to have been somewhat morally corrupt, even sometimes a genuine schmuck. That doesn't detract from the quality of his work, by the way.

What about you: Do you personally like the chair?
It is a unique design classic, and it looks amazing, but it's history and origin is what makes it even more interesting to us. Growing up with Billy Wilder movies, we prefer the Eames Chair Charles and Ray made for him. Wilder asked the Eames couple to design a chair for him, because: "A man of my reputation simply can't afford to have something that looks like a casting couch in his office—it's too obvious a symbol of lechery (Wilder)." It's interesting that Wilder also saw something lecherous about certain lines within design. Maybe that ingrained allure is what made the adult film industry so drawn to the LC4.

I'll think twice before sitting on a LC4 chair next time I see one... Do you feel the same?

It is very hard not to, considering the hours we spent watching it used for… athletics. That's why it's always interesting to observe how people interact or use it with the knowledge we have. We talked to numerous women who let us in on their secrets on how they had sex on it as if it was something of a rarity, but we tend to just keep our mouth shut. Take a look at it, it's a casting couch for God's sake 

Totally agree with you. Thank you.

We Don't Embroider Cushions Here was published by Edition Monumental. You can find more on their website and Instagram.

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