Salone del Mobile – Refuge Tonneau, Charlotte Perriand, Pierre Jeanneret

Enter the Refuge Tonneau, a futuristic space shuttle-mountain shelter  that can be visited for the first time thanks to Cassina’s authentic reconstruction

Cassina has developed the first full reconstruction of the Refuge Tonneau designed by Charlotte Perriand and Pierre Jeanneret in 1938 in its space at the Design Village during the Salone del Mobile

1938 - 2012. The visionary power of a mountain shelter inspired by a children’s fairground ride
Charlotte Perriand, a great lover of the mountains, had already envisaged a prototype of a mobile mountain refuge in 1936. Two years later, together with Pierre Jeanneret, she developed a unique and advanced model of the Refuge Tonneau. Her bizarre source of inspiration was a children’s fairground ride photographed in Croatia. The idea from this light and itinerant structure was the metal frame consisting of a central pole and a top reminiscent of a large umbrella with twelve spokes.

An authentic masterpiece of mobile architecture for extreme weather conditions
The dodecahedron structure, initially envisaged for all of the mountains in the Alps, was a remarkable precursor to a number of projects developed decades later, such as the Concordia stations in the Antarctic from 2002 and the Mars Society Desert Research Station from 2011.   The framework of this compact space shuttle -shelter is made from industrial materials, such as aluminium for the panels, chosen for its lightness, which are easy to assemble and disassemble. The round ports and the volumes recall the aeronautic world. The shape is designed so as not to resist the wind. The piles provide stability even on the most uneven and steep terrain. The interior of the shelter is made from pinewood which, despite its minimalism, gives the ambience a natural and welcoming feel.

Room for eight. A Spartan oasis complete of all necessities. Enter to discover the ingeniously detailed organisation of the interiors 
The door, designed to keep out the cold, opens into a small space divided into a ground floor with four single beds and a mezzanine with two double beds, able to host up to eight people. The space clearly presented an intriguing challenge for Charlotte Perriand, who had always loved examining and exploring the practices that facilitate the gestures that create a bond between man and furniture in confined spaces. Highly attentive to the arrangement (layout), Charlotte Perriand finds a place for everything. The heater is inside the central steel pillar and warms the entire interior whilst occupying as little space as  possible. The beds on the ground floor can be folded away, thanks to a system of leather belts inspired by the train sleeper carts of that time, and transformed into seating to be used during the day. The minute kitchen area is made up of a wooden worktop that houses a steel washbasin where snow can be melted. Next to this are containers for basic staple foods, a shelf for the little camping stove, a place for storing rucksacks and a ski rack. Every piece of furniture is in fact a small masterpiece of functionality and beauty, a solution that fits intelligently with the others, an attentive consideration of the requirements of those that live the mountains, the cold and nature in an intense way, and seek a moment to relax and recharge the batteries.

The general public finally has a chance to get a close-up view of this original mobile mountain refuge
No longer just a design described in books, but a 3D object that one can touch and view up-close in order to understand the innovative nature of a mobile piece of architecture for extreme environments.

Cassina’s guiding philosophy: produce an authentic reconstruction of the work
Cassina has developed a faithful reproduction on the basis of drawings, notes and furnishings already produced by Charlotte Perriand in other projects for the home. After the 2006 reconstruction of the Cabanon, Le Corbusier’s summer home, Cassina has developed another cultural project that enables people to come inside this visionary structure, which would otherwise have remained unknown.

The Refuge Tonneau took shape thanks to the passionate research that Cassina carried out on the original sketches, drawings and notes of the two authors. A major commitment, pursued with a spirit of great affinity and harmony, aimed at interpreting and realising, as faithfully as possible, the real intentions of two of the most prominent figures of the odern movement and the Cassina I Maestri Collection. The entire operation took place in close collaboration with the daughter of  Charlotte Perriand, Pernette Perriand-Barsac, her assistant for twenty years, and with Cassina’s entire legacy of know-how, industrial technologies, material expertise and innovative capacities that it has matured over the years.

Measurements: Ø 380 x h. 392 cm.