Sicilian designer Matteo Guarnaccia has transformed the simple chair into a social, cultural and industrial research project. Travelling to the world’s eight most populated countries he has developed a chair in each territory by working with design studios located in Japan, China, Indonesia, India, Russia, Nigeria, Brazil and Mexico. This month to mark his book’s release by Onomatopee Publishing, we review the beauty of these vibrant creations.
Cross Cultural Chairs is a thought provoking non-profit research project, responsible for investigating the anthropology of chairs. The progenitor is the Barcelona based, Sicilian-born designer Matteo Guarnaccia who sees the chair as a cultural marker.
“The anatomy of our bodies requires sitting; but do we design seats in the same way?” Matteo asks. “Has our meaning of sitting been colonised by modern design? And how is the diverse, social-cultural act of sitting itself reflected in this functional commodity?” Seeking to answer these questions he set about visiting eight of the most populated countries in the world over 8 months. Matteo’s ambitious field project sought to portray each country in an object made with local design studios, materials and craft. “It was basically a triangle of collaboration where the chair was in the middle,” says Matteo. He produced eight chairs, one book, one documentary and one travelling exhibition. on June 1, 2021 Cross Cultural Chairs the book, was released by Omonatopee Press.
“I tried to explore and understand the impacts of globalisation – how we produce and also how we consume chairs”Matteo Guarnaccia
The final book takes readers on the journey across the globe, by documenting his process and results. It is a time capsule of design – reflecting both past and present.
“We tried to represent the contemporary culture. We wanted to take account of what was, but we were also just interested in portraying what is now. It was good to have a broad view on so many countries in such a concentrated time, as it allowed me to take in an overview of the design scene in general – the way of sitting and what it means is different in each culture. I tried to explore and understand the impacts of globalisation – how we produce and also he we consume chairs,” Matteo says.
His point is well proven by his graphically depicted research, which follows and investigates the process of creating each chair in workshops and factories.
At The Together Project we love this colourful subject as it diversifies the supposedly ordinary parts of chair-culture and opens up the conversation to include notions of identity, community and expression.