Award-winning artist and designer Sebastian Errazuriz creates the most beautiful and ingenious pieces of sculptural furniture you may have ever seen. His products are imaginative and with a fair touch of both the provocative and the macabre!
Sebastian Errazuriz is a fascinating man. His portfolio is unlike those of most product designers. His cabinetry and furniture designs jostle for space with provocative political public art and experimental designs for shoes, among others.
Born in Chile, raised in London and now based in New York, Sebastian has a Masters Degree in Fine Arts from New York University. At the age of 28, he became the second living South American artist to have work auctioned at Sotheby’s Important Twentieth Century Design Auction.
Sebastian’s furniture is an example of exquisite cabinetry, attention to detail and imagination. The Magistral Chest and Cabinet, for example, looks like an upscale version of brush bristles or soft porcupine quills. A closer investigation reveals that the two pieces are actually covered with a layer of over 80,000 sharpened wood dowels or skewers, all placed by hand one at a time. These symbolically protect the owner’s belongings. Concealed doors lead to the inner compartments. The Magistral is an amazing combination of sculpture and utility.
Sebastian’s cabinetry is fluid and full of movement. The Explosion cabinet (2014) is another piece of sculptural furniture. It is a tidy credenza with transparent glass sidewalls. With a gentle push, however, the rails slide out and open and expand outward.
Similarly, the Wave (2014) is a museum-worthy piece of useful sculpture. It is a fully-functional cabinet that can take on a whole new form. Each individual slat in the cabinet can move, “much like a paper fan”, or indeed, a wave. The beauty of the Wave is staggering and is reminiscent of precise origami folds.
The Samurai cabinet (2014), on the other hand, looks as fierce as it sounds. “Almost 400 individually movable keels construct a flexible skin which allows its contents to be accessed from any angle. The small spear shaped pieces allow its shape to shift and change depending on the positions in which they are arranged.”
“The Space between the void” (The Kaleidoscope Cabinet) was created in the memory of an aunt (we’ve all had one of these) who practiced the “look but don’t touch” policy for beautiful things in the home. Such restrictions only serve to make the contents irresistible, though.
The Kaleidoscope cabinet offers a reflective interior “that will multiply whatever is placed inside it, thus painting its interior with the colours and patterns of the belongings of its owner.” Using memory as a tongue-in-cheek design aid, the cabinet has an interior light and a peep hole to allow viewers to peer inside and see the objects even when the cabinet is locked. Ideal for when you have pesky relatives or curious children around.
Reminiscent of detailed baroque furniture, this desk disguised as a cathedral will be the star of any space. Continuing to straddle the fine line between sculpture and utility is the gothic ‘A Church of One’. The elaborate façade of the church opens to reveal enough hidden compartments to satisfy even a hard-core hoarder. Hidden desk drawers and slots in the surface of the table make this a statement desk.
Moving on from cabinetry, take a look at some of Sebastian’s other designs. The Narcissus desk was inspired by Caravaggio’s painting of Narcissus. Sebastian restored an old broken desk dating to 1880. The desk was cut to accommodate the user and the original top was replaced by a mirror.
Sebastian explains, “I was struck by the idea that someone could see their reflection and yet not be aware they were looking at themselves. I believe today we are becoming like Narcissus; so obsessed with our own perfectly edited online self that we forget to be aware of the real “me” outside the screen.”
‘Antiquity’ is inspired by the iconic Venus D’Arles statue, where mahogany shelves surround a full-sized replica of the marble statue, hiding and revealing bits of it. The shelves function as book shelves but remind viewers of the scaffolding surrounding artworks under restoration.
“I wanted to play with the notion of the seen and unseen,” explains Sebastian.
“At the same time, my goal was to turn an invaluable statue into a functional design; I wanted to break the boundaries of classification and turn one of the world’s most famous sculptures into a mundane bookshelf.”
The Caesar Bench has the heads of Julius Caesar holding up a bench, making a forceful point that “today’s empires and leaders will mostly be toppled tomorrow.”
Some of Sebastian’s work tends towards the provocative or macabre and are guaranteed to evoke strong reactions.
The Chicken Lamps are a little bit creepy and are part of his series of functional sculptures with real Taxidermy. Sebastian explains his experience during the creative process of his Taxidermy pieces: “I was actually afraid of the public’s reaction when I first presented the Duck Lamp. Taxidermy wasn’t a trend yet and I didn’t want to be considered a freak, but felt compelled to make it. Somehow it made sense to me and to my surprise when I presented it in a gallery, it seemed to make some weird sense to other people too. It apparently felt familiar, beautiful, terrible, and funny at the same time.”
The Bird Chandelier has a traditional crystal lamp covered with 50 colourful taxidermy birds which seem to balance precariously on the chandelier. The Bird Chandelier was inspired by a similar lamp at Sebastian’s grandmother’s house which would occasionally have birds fly in through the windows, perch on the lamp and at times unfortunately be injured or die when trying to fly out through a closed window.
Sebastian’s prodigious output extends beyond furniture and lighting. His political artworks deserve an article by themselves; these challenge established views and make one think about issues beyond one’s immediate world.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Courtesy The Designer