Design Under the Influence: The Hand Chair

“I admire everything that is useless, frivolous and whimsical. I hate functionalism, post modernism and almost everything else. I do not agree with the dictum that houses are supposed to be ‘machines to live in’. For me, the house and its objects is supposed to be some crazy place that make you laugh.” ~ Pedro Friedeberg
Hello, it’s Erika from small shop with our 20th edition of “Design Under the Influence” — can you believe it? I’ve been seeing the iconic hand chair everywhere lately, and it always seems to pop up in my favorite interiors by my favorite designers. I was hoping you would want to learn more about it?
The original hand chair was designed by surrealist artist Pedro Friedeberg in 1962, when he was just 24 years old. But it seems that even from a very early age, Friedeberg rallied against structure and convention, finding inspiration in the Dadaist principle of creating anti-art for art’s sake. But don’t tell him that: Friedeberg went so far as organizing an art movement with the sole purpose of ridiculing movements in art!
Although he has painted, illustrated and sculpted countless pieces throughout his still ongoing career, he is best known for the hand chair, selling over 5,000 units since its creation. At that time, the International Style of modern designers such as Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and the Bauhaus reigned supreme. Friedeberg’s chair design was a parody of their principle that “form follows function.”
Let’s take a look at some of those aforementioned favorite spaces:
Lenny Kravitz
I’ll let Friedeberg explain his thinking in his own words: “The surrealists are more into dreaming, into the absurd and into the ridiculous uselesness of things. My work is always criticizing the absurdity of things. I am an idealist. I am certain that very soon now humanity will arrive at a marvelous epoch totally devoid of Knoll chairs, jogging pants, tennis shoes and baseball caps sideway use, and the obscenity of Japanese rock gardens five thousand miles from Kyoto.”
I like him! (Even though I still love a good Knoll chair.)
Top image: Jonathan Adler

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