Since we featured the Animal Chair collection by Maximo Riera, we have been really inspired by the rare sculptures. It took us a while to get in touch with Riera, but when we finally did, we were quick to pounce on the opportunity to conduct an interview with him. In the interview, Riera has talked us through his elation of combining his biggest joys: nature and art to his upcoming animal furniture inspired by Chelonoidis Abingdoni, a turtle extinct last year in the Galapagos Island.
Homecrux: Tell us something about yourself. How did your journey with these animal chairs begin?
Maximo Riera: I have tried to combine both of my biggest joys: nature and art. I normally focus on endangered species for my creations. I want to point out their uniqueness and how special these animals are, I hope we all realize this before is too late.
Homecrux: How did the idea of making these chairs come to your mind? What is the main material used to make the chairs? Does the weather impact the material used?
Maximo Riera: This collection gives us an option of admiring what nature is capable of; this is the main reason why from the beginning I wanted to be faithful to the animal’s physique. The pieces are made in high-density polyurethane and contain an internal metallic frame, which allows holding the structure and weight of the composition. They have required the highest technology (CNC) and engineering to develop and manufacture. Since the seat part is made out of leather, they have to be kept indoors.
Homecrux: Are these mass-produced? If yes, what is the price range?
Maximo Riera: Every piece is manufactured to order, taking approximately 9 weeks to produce. Each one needs an average of 190 hours of machinery and 170 hours of the workman as it is assembled, sanded, and painted by hand, which makes them unique. The prices start in £32.000.
Homecrux: Your furniture collection mainly contains chairs and not any other furniture object? Why? For how many years have you been into this profession and what do you fancy doing other than designing animal chairs?
Maximo Riera: I have chosen the chair because is an everyday object that it is normally taken for granted and at the same time has an important role in our lives. For many years my artistic career was relegated to a secondary role due to my professional life in the medical industry. After selling my company and professional retirement, I could focus on the creative work which always has been my true passion.
Homecrux: How do you manage to maintain perfect detailing in each piece so that each looks biologically accurate and lively in appearance?
Maximo Riera: It was a difficult task to find and develop the technology necessary to achieve this. I am always trying new techniques and materials. From the brainstorming, I have the intention of creating something new and different. Art always has to break boundaries and being an artist now a days means that you have to take risks in order to create something new/different – innovative. This is the key to make Art evolving.
Homecrux: There is a strong bond between animals and humans. What do you feel about it and how do you define this connection through your creations?
Maximo Riera: Sadly, the only way that most people have to contemplate a wild animal our days is visiting the zoo or by any kind of savage taxidermy. This collection gives us an option of admiring what nature is capable of, this is the main reason why from the beginning I wanted to be faithful to the animal’s physique.
Homecrux: Are the chairs as bulky as they look? How do you address the issue of mobility? How do you justify the connection between contemporary and traditional furniture?
Maximo Riera: It is important to maintain the scale of the animal to prevail their spirit and create a connection towards the spectator. They are sculpture so the object functionality comes second. The connection between contemporary and traditional furniture does not need to be justified as long as the combination works and there is a flow between all the components.
Homecrux: What is the average time taken to complete a single chair?
Maximo Riera: The Animal Chair Collection is a limited edition of 20 pieces. The chairs are pieces of art, a sculpture more than a chair. There is so much work and effort put on this project. It takes an average of ten weeks to produce one of these chairs since they are finished by hand. For those reasons, these pieces are suitable for art collectors.
Homecrux: Have you collaborated with other companies to mass-produce these wonderful chairs?
Maximo Riera: I do not like this option since mass production will decrease the quality of the piece.
Homecrux: We have seen around half dozens of living creatures taking beautiful forms in your furniture line. And certainly, there are many more to come. Could you tell us about your upcoming designs that we will see soon?
Maximo Riera: I am working on a piece inspired by Chelonoidis Abingdoni, a turtle extinct last year in the Galapagos Island.