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The Porn Cameos of a Chaise Lounge Co-Designed by Le Corbusier

A book by the pseudonymous pair Augustine and Josephine Rockebrune gathers some 150 stills from adult films featuring the sleek LC4 chaise lounge.

Spread from We Don’t Embroider Cushions Here by Augustine and Josephine Rockebrune, published by Édition Monumental (all images courtesy Édition Monumental)

What do Le Corbusier and the 2005 porno Slut Puppies have in common?

One very curvaceous chair, the LC4 Chaise Lounge, a design icon of the 20th century apparently so comfortable and sleek it has cameos in hundreds of very, very NSFW adult flicks.

Designed in 1928 and now attributed to Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, and Charlotte Perriand, the LC4 champions relaxation, with a frame capable of reclining at any angle. This, perhaps, is what may make it a popular prop for sex, along with the fact that you can customize an order in buttery full-grain leather, seductive pony or cow skin, or luscious beige canvas upholstery.

Cover of We Don’t Embroider Cushions Here by Augustine and Josephine Rockebrune, published by Édition Monumental

A few years ago, an artist pair identifying itself as Augustine and Josephine Rockebrune picked up on the LC4’s quiet presence in porn videos, after a Google search for Tom Wolfe led to the author’s porn star namesake doing it on the LC4. Since then, they’ve captured screenshots of every chaise lounge they’ve found in skin flicks, from Flesh Hunter 10 (2007) to Feeding Frenzy 9 (2009). The result is We Don’t Embroider Cushions Here, published by Édition Monumental, a photo book that will make you giggle or blush — but also cleverly draws unexpected ties between the debasement of the women on film and Le Corbusier’s own brusque treatment of his female colleague who, for decades, didn’t receive due credit for her vision.

The book’s title comes from a famous remark Le Corbusier made to Perriand when she came to him in 1927, asking to work with him. “He glanced quickly through my drawings,” Perriand recalls in her 1998 autobiography Une Vie de creation. “‘We don’t embroider cushions here,’ he replied, and showed me the door.” Le Corbusier, of course, realized he’d made a mistake and took on Perriand, who went on to design renowned furnishings and entire houses.

Charlotte Perriand reclining on an LC4 in 1929

In the volume, she’s positioned as a woman who answers to no one, at ease and owning her own creation. The very first image that greets readers is a black-and-white photograph of Perriand lying elegantly on an LC4 in 1929, her face turned away from us. From then on, it’s over 200 pages of 21st-century nude or scantily clad women kneeling on the chaise in black pleather stilettos, chained and roped to it, or bent over its innovative, chromed tubular steel frame. At times, no one’s on the chair at all; it is but a humble emblem of refinement lurking in a corner amidst the wild, hold-no-bars action unfolding around its approximately $4,000 frame. But set in this context — where it’s difficult to ignore for its bold, undulating form — it embodies the power dynamics between men and women, and it stands as an enduring reminder of Le Corbusier’s privilege and gendered dismissal of a mind stirring with as much creativity as his own.

“Our main interest was to showcase an interesting and unseen trajectory of a piece of design,” the Rockebrunes told Hyperallergic. Their pseudonym, as you may have guessed, is a nod to the architect’s holiday home in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, but it also just has, as the artists put it, “a good ring to it, just like Man Ray or Lil’ Kim.”

Spread from We Don’t Embroider Cushions Here by Augustine and Josephine Rockebrune, published by Édition Monumental

The images included are just a small sample of what’s out there: the artists, who later outsourced the task of viewing to a paid internet workforce in India, located just over 800 examples of the LC4’s appearances in pornos. To them, the phenomenon simply exemplifies the success of the chair’s intended purpose: to provide humans with a piece of furniture that guarantees individual, customizable pleasure — and pleasure, certainly is to be found in these films.

“When it comes to whether the producers have an excellent eye for quality design, the standard answer would probably be hell no, because of the connotations porn have in a lot of peoples’ minds: cheap settings, bad dialogue, fake boobs etc., which can only be labelled simply as disingenuous prejudices,” the Rockebrunes said. “The producers have the exact same amount of taste as anyone else (just take a look at many of Dame Helen Mirren’s red carpet appearances — she wears $39 clear-heel stripper shoes with Balmain dresses). It’s all about function.”

The duo may have excavated a fascinating perspective on cultural slighting from the dirtiest dregs of the internet, but doing so did have its downside.

“What is true for any other thing — like listening to the same song or watching Kelly’s Heroes for the umpteenth time on TCM — is true for porn,” they said. “You will eventually get tired of it, and watching porn in these immense quantities is no exception. Since finishing our book, we have taken a sabbatical from porn.”

Spread from We Don’t Embroider Cushions Here by Augustine and Josephine Rockebrune, published by Édition Monumental
Spread from We Don’t Embroider Cushions Here by Augustine and Josephine Rockebrune, published by Édition Monumental
Spread from We Don’t Embroider Cushions Here by Augustine and Josephine Rockebrune, published by Édition Monumental
Spread from We Don’t Embroider Cushions Here by Augustine and Josephine Rockebrune, published by Édition Monumental
Spread from We Don’t Embroider Cushions Here by Augustine and Josephine Rockebrune, published by Édition Monumental

We Don’t Embroider Cushions Here is available through Édition Monumental.

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