Humble Abode The appeal of tiny homes.

Humble Abode The appeal of tiny homes.

  • Words Alex Anderson
  • Photograph Atelier Abraha Achermann

The modernist designer Charlotte Perriand astounded critics when, just two years out of school, she exhibited a cramped interior entitled “Bar Beneath the Roof” at the annual fall exposition of interior design in Paris. It was a tiny room, lit by a single window under a low sloped ceiling. A nickel-plated bar and stools on one side balanced a built-in phonograph and leather couch on the other.

This was 1927, a time when young professionals like Perriand struggled to find decent housing in Paris. Yet virtually every other designer exhibiting in the show competed to outdo each other with grand rooms, exquisite finishes, lavish furniture and costly textiles. Art deco was in full swing, and Perriand was announcing a challenge—sowing “fruitful unease” among her co-exhibitors, as on...

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