Cassina celebrates the 50th anniversary of the LC Collection. Italian industrialization for the research and development of contemporary design.

1965-2015: a golden anniversary for Italian manufacture and the masters of 20th Century design
2015 is an important year, firstly to commemorate Le Corbusier’s death and, above all, to celebrate one of the most significant collections of contemporary design.
In 1964, while Le Corbusier and the co-authors were still alive, Cassina signed the contract to start producing the first four models by Le Corbusier, Jeanneret e Perriand, employing a philological process which marked the very beginning of the Cassina I Maestri Collection. By choosing Cassina Le Corbusier demonstrated great international recognition of the Italian company’s industrial know-how.
Technological innovation for serial production
Cassina accepted the challenge to produce these revolutionary items, unfamiliar at the time, from 1965, introducing over the years a series of technical innovations to advance the products from a small artisanal production to an industrial manufacturing process. In particular Cassina:
1. established the distinctive curve of the chrome-plated tubular steel frame through a refined bending process rather than simply welding at a 90° angle;
2. introduced polyurethane foam padding and then feathers for extra comfort in the cushions.
Thanks to the collection’s commercial success, which went hand in hand with the internationalisation of the company, these products produced in Meda were distributed worldwide, making them the familiar icons that they are today.
Over the years Cassina has developed the LC Collection adding models by the three authors (Le Corbusier, Jeanneret, Perriand) and other projects that Le Corbusier elaborated alone once he had reached full artistic maturity, turning his work towards elementary and archetypical items, particularly in wood.
Authenticity, keeping Cassina one step ahead of the copycat market
Cassina is the only authorised company to produce designs by Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, Charlotte Perriand, working in close collaboration with the Le Corbusier Foundation and the heirs of the co-authors. Right from the very beginning, the models were branded with a progressive production number, an innovative instrument to recognise the artistic value of the pieces and to ensure control of the original production.
It is vital to fight against imitations and protect the culture of design in order to sustain innovation and quality. Cassina’s commitment is to pro-actively develop the LC Collection with product innovation and cultural initiatives to put the copycats in a difficult position where they are unable to compete with the high quality and historical content of the projects.
Looking to the future: chrome-free technology for a safer environment
Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand were all particularly conscious about the importance of the environment and nature was often a central theme in their works. They all had the joint mission to restore the connection between nature and mankind in architecture and urbanism.
Continuing its quest for innovation, Cassina’s future-minded approach has led the company to research the industrial process adopted by its suppliers in the production and disposal of chromium plated frames.
The use of hexavalent chromium (CR6), a method still implemented by the furniture industry to protect from metal corrosion and increase aesthetics, is destined to become obsolete as the automobile industry has anticipated. Hexavalent chrome plating chemicals can be hazardous to health when inhaled during the production cycle due to the dangerous waste created.
Considering this, since the end of 2014 Cassina has made a conscientious decision to only employ a trivalent chromium (CR3) plating process for the frames of the LC Collection, a safe and considerably less toxic alternative to hexavalent chromium thanks to lower chromium concentration levels, less air emissions and consequently less toxic waste.
Materials with a green focus
This eco-friendly logic has also been applied to other phases of the production cycle to reduce the negative impact on the environment, for example the brand has introduced a new organic leather collection and a soft fabric which resembles leather but is made from a combination of polyester and polyurethane. This textile has a reduced environmental impact as it is made without solvent or metal based dyes, uses 70% less water and generates 35% less CO2 in the production process.
Historical analysis for product upgrade: colours and details
The intense historical research carried out by Cassina together with the Le Corbusier Foundation and the heirs of the co-authors, has led to a series of product upgrades for the LC Collection with the aim of discovering the authentic spirit of the project.
Cassina has presented a reviewed palette of colours for the collection’s frames which update the nuances originally identified in 1978 by Charlotte Perriand. The new tones were discovered during the analysis of models from the archives and museums. The burgundy and ochre frames have been replaced by brown, ivory and mud, while the light blue, green and grey shades have been slightly modified. The basalt colour has been eliminated and is now only used for the Villa Church models, as has the matt black for the LC4 chaise-longue
frame which now remains in the chrome version only.
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