Blog

Meeting Architect S.D. Sharma Posted on 09 May 10:52 , 0 comments

I had the pleasure of attending a talk in Bangalore yesterday (08 May, 2015) by Architect S.D. Sharma, a one of the pioneers of the Modernist architecture movement in India. Mr. Sharma, in his mid eighties now, was full of energy and enthusiasm as he spoke about his association with Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret. 

S.D. Sharma was a young freshly minted architect when he joined the team of architects working on the creation of Chandigarh. He was directly mentored by Pierre Jeanneret, Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew and eventually got to work closely with Corbusier on the Capitol Project. Corbusier's strong convictions and belief in his ideology - especially that rational, mathematical principles should be the foundation for all architecture- made a deep impression on the young Sharma.

What stood out for me was Mr. Sharma's immense affection for Pierre Jeanneret as he recollected stories of his calm, quiet personality and love for the Indian countryside. Jeanneret took the young Sharma under his wing and made him his collaborator on several projects. As Sharma said in his talk, "Corbusier created the Head of Chandigarh (The Capitol Project), but it was Jeanneret who created the body and the human side of Chandigarh". Sharma's last meeting with Jeanneret was in Geneva, just a few months before Jeanneret's death. Jeanneret insisted on Sharma staying on in Geneva for a few more days and arranged for a local guide to take him around. A beautiful photograph in the slide presentation showed Sharma with his arm around a smiling Jeanneret during their last meeting in Geneva (image below). If you manage to enlarge the image, there are some great quotes by Jeanneret on the slide.

The ten minute conversation I had with Architect S.D. Sharma before his talk was not only a great privilege in itself, but also the closest I will ever get to Corbusier or Jeanneret.


Discovering Pierre Jeanneret Posted on 04 May 15:56 , 0 comments

 

I first came across a pair of Pierre Jeanneret Office chairs in an antique dealers shop in mid 2014. The dealer is a good friend and long time associate. He said that he had reserved these 'Corbusier chairs' for me and I should list them on my antiques website phantomhands.in. Later that evening I googled 'corbusier chairs' and couldn't tear myself away from the screen for a few hours. I learnt about the chain of scrap dealers, art dealers, galleries and auction houses who have created the phenomenal market for ‘original’ Chandigarh furniture. Most importantly, I learnt about the life of Pierre Jeanneret and fell in love with his furniture. 

Over the next few weeks, I bought all the books I could find on the Chandigarh adventures of Corbusier and Jeanneret. A visit to Chandigarh followed soon and the Chandigarh story sucked me into its vortex. Pierre Jeanneret's life and work triggered my eternal admiration for the underdog. Jeanneret was to Corbusier what Harrison was to Lennon/McCartney. In a few weeks, Project Chandigarh began to take shape in my head and my own Chandigarh Adventure began.