Although he was also a designer, painter and writer, Le Corbusier is known primarily as an architect. And, like many prominent early 20th-century architects, Le Corbusier believed in the importance of a completely designed environment. His first collection of wallpapers, designed in 1931, consisted mainly of solid colors that he referred to as a color keyboard. Believing that color was an integral component of a building’s interior, Le Corbusier described his wallpaper as “a layer of oil paint in rolls” and felt that the process of applying color to his building interiors would guarantee that his color palette was observed. He chose the Swiss company Salubra to manufacture his wallpapers because he felt they were the only company capable of accurately reproducing his palette.

Mauer is a design from Le Corbusier’s second collection of wallpaper, which was produced in 1959. The subtle textures and patterns in Mauer reflect Le Corbusier’s move away from the solid colors and psychophysiology of color employed in the earlier collection. Mauer was cleverly designed with much flexibility: per Le Corbusier’s illustrations in the sample book, the wallpaper could be used to cover one wall or two, hung on ceilings or distinct architectural elements, and could also be hung in a variety of patterns on the wall. In addition, Mauer could be hung horizontally or vertically, and numerous patterns could be created by flipping or staggering the paper. While this versatility was deliberately planned for his patterned papers, Le Corbusier had different intentions altogether for his solid papers, about which he stated, “nothing is less noble than the sight of vertical joints.”

Today is Le Corbusier’s birthday.

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