2012: Industry meets architecture

In celebration of the 75th anniversary we invited the Finnish architect Vesa Honkonen to create a suite of colours for a limited anniversary collection of L-1. He has chosen to go back in history. Here he explains why.
Industrialization and the legacy of Le Corbusier
Western European industrialization started to show the way for the future in the 18th century, particularly in the United Kingdom. Progress takes time. Form finds its new expression slowly. By the early 20th century, design and architecture was getting a lot of inspiration from the new age of machines and industry. L-1 is a successful industrial product, but also a proud and self-reliant representative of the design ideals of its time. It still catches the eye, it still works.

When I started looking for new colors for L-1, it did not feel right just to make do with the industrialized colours we use today. I felt that the new L-1 colours should have the same depth as the L-1. So I went back to the 1930ies and the colour palette created by Le Corbusier in 1931: polychromie architecturale. As an architect, painter and artist, he had created his own palette for use in architecture.

Le Corbusier used natural pigments. His colors have depth, they shine. His palette is based on his interpretation of how people feel about colours, how they perceive space with their senses.

Luckily there are people who still work with these colors. L-1 now has a new skin from the 1930ies, based on a system that creates harmony by combining colours that work well together. It is my hope that the colour qualities of the anniversary collection of L-1 will help create a new awareness of the possibilities that lie in using the colours of Le Corbusier in today’s architecture and design projects. Because these are qualities that will still be fresh after 75 years. Like the quality of Luxo L-1.

Vesa Honkonen