Guest Contribution by Katerina Biliouri
Only a few days before the London design week kicks off, your one and only Yatzer double-decker keeps on touring around the work of talented designers. Next stop Valentina Gonzalez Wolhers.
She is the one behind the innovative and playful Prickly Pair Chairs, presented in Milan Design Week 2009 last April. Valentina, who has been featured in numerous design magazines from Russia to Australia, will be showing her work this week at Designersblock London 2009.
Born in Mexico in the late ’70s and with studies on Industrial Design and Indoors Architecture, she reinterprets the classical Louis XV French style to a bright coloured Nopal cactus-like prickled chair. Bringing forward her European and Mexican aesthetic values, she manages to experiment with different textures, materials and colours, thus creating an eye-catching pair of chairs.
In the 18th century Rococo style, which took pleasure in asymmetry, the practice of leaving elements unbalanced for effect is called “contraste”. In Valentina’s Prickly Pair Chairs, the asymmetry and “contraste” are extended even more into a furniture project born out of the creative experience of a Mexican designer in Europe.
The Nopal cactus symbolizes Mexican heritage and national pride. The blend of these cultures is evident in this ‘matching’ pair of chairs. As the designer herself quotes: “Prickly Pair Chairs respects the original 18th century 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”.
The Ghost of a Chair is another example of her work, transforming yet again a Louis XV chair in an utterly different way. This time, a faint sheet, immaterial and partly transparent is draped gently over the Louis XV chair. Furniture at that time was developed to fit easily into spaces. When these rooms where not in use, the furniture would be covered with white sheets and locked away. That “mixed feeling between romantic nostalgia and boredom” was exactly what inspired Valentina’s work. Falling over its soft curves and stylish armrest, it is reaching the floor with beautiful pleats and full of static movement. The chair appears to us conspicuously clothed. The designer herself uses a quote by Charles Dickens: “An idea, like a Ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself”.
Apart from Designersblock in Earls Court, The Ghost of a Chair project will be also exhibiting as a part of the London Design Festival at the “Losing the Plot” exhibition, organised by Lifestylebazaar in collaboration the Children With AIDS Charity [CWAC]. In this exhibition, eight Louis Ghost chairs designed by Philippe Starck for Kartell will be reinterpreted through the process of customisation by individuals from diverse creative backgrounds. Valentina Gonzalez Wohlers is among the designers participating in this challenging project.
Unique transformations of chairs and inspiring design.
Yatzereaders stay tuned on the London report. More stops in our journey.
To be continued...