Valentina Gonzalez Wohlers at Designersblock London 2009

August 11, 2009

prickly pair chair
‘Prickly Pair Chairs’ is a furniture project born out of the creative experience of a Mexican designer in Europe.

The chairs juxtapose Mexican and European aesthetic values, incorporating the formal design elements and quirks of both to create a cultural blend. They are frivolous and humorous yet simultaneously encourage reflection and acceptance. Shapes, materials, colours, textures and finishes collide in irreverent and playful harmony; the Prickly pair chairs are a statement against prejudice and preconceptions.

The classical French oval chair originated in the Rococo period during the reign of Louis XV and has since been adopted throughout central Europe. Although now completely familiar, its form was radical at the time – considered over-decorated nonsense which dispensed with rectilinear styles in favour of more light-hearted asymmetric forms. Rococo’s naturalistic and exuberant ornamentation mixed natural and artificial forms of all kinds, from plant motifs to representations of the grotesque.

The Nopal cactus symbolizes Mexican heritage and national pride. According to legend, the Gods told the Aztecs to build Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City) in the place they saw an eagle standing on a Nopal, devouring a snake. To this day, the image resides on the National Shield.

While Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns may immediately convey ‘Mexican-ness’ to European audiences (even though they were filmed in Spain and Italy), it is the sight of cactus and Nopales that brings meaning to Mexican daily life and form the most beloved symbols of the country’s culture.

The blend of these two iconographic elements was achieved by Valentina Gonzales Wohlers in this ‘matching’ pair of chairs. ‘Prickly Pair Chairs’ respects the original chair but concludes that its new, hybrid form synthesizes the ‘best of both worlds’; it evokes nostalgia for what was left behind and helps facilitate a sense of belonging in a new environment by fusing two powerful cultural symbols.

prickly pair chair detail

Valentina Gonzalez Wohlers

Designersblock London 2009 takes place during the London Design Festival over 5000 square meters of space alongside 100% Design in Earls Court One.

24 – 27 Sep 2009

Opening times:
Thursday 24 September 10.00 – 21.00 Friday 25 September 10.00 – 19.00 Saturday 26 September 10.00 – 18.00 Sunday 27 September 11.00 – 17.00

Register on the Designersblock website.