One of the most important furniture artisans in the world worksin Stockholm, has the surname Álvarez, and his pieces show us a new and radical way of working by hand.
Antón Álvarez, 35 years old, is the new exemplar of Nordic design, a man whose furniture pieces, apart from being
functional, have transcended to the level of artistic pieces.
The Swedish-Chilean designer has seen how his revolutionary system of furniture making, based on the process of circular pressure using polyester threads, has crossed borders and left critics and fans speechless.
Thanks to the LEGO´s pieces I discovered concepts volume and assembly, that after I could apply to my work
His method, which he dubs “thread wrapping”, involves wrapping each of his pieces with different coloured, glue-coated
threads, through which, instead of nails and joints, he is able to maintain the rigidity of the structure of his pieces.
In addition, this technique allows for new volumes, colours and forms that would be impossible to obtain otherwise. His diabolical machine, resembling a portal to another dimension, was his graduate project at art school. A construction system that was set up for his pieces but which he intends to use in future architectural projects.
1.Even though you were born in Uppsala, in Sweden, do you feel linked to your Hispanic family roots?
I was born in Sweden, but I’ve spent long periods of time in Chile, the land of my family. It’s been very positive because I’ve been able to have contact with two very different cultures, and that’s reflected in my work.
2.You’ve said that your training also owes a lot to the LEGO pieces you played with as a child. Tell us about that..
From an early age I discovered the first pieces for young children, then went through all the different stages and spent hours playing with them. I discovered concepts like volume and assembly which have served me very well in my technical work.
3 .Your first contact with the art world was during your graffiti era. Is that something you’ve now given up for good?
Not entirely. Once in a while I still practice it with friends, but it was an activity that had more to do with youth… I think it was my first attempt to bond with the graphic arts. During that time I discovered the energy and independence that comes from creating something yourself. It was key to my professional and personal growth.
4.During your academic training, what was the first thing that you had to build?
A chair. It was a class project in which I was sat for two years. Then I made small things, like a knife handle or wooden boxes, to learn the method.
5.When did you open the doors to your current creation?
At the end of my studies. That was when I created the “thread wrapping” machine. It was my final project and it really stood out.
6.Are your pieces furniture for everyday use or are they closer to sculpture?
I’ve created them to be used, but what happens is it depends on the person who sees them and the context. There are some who want them as a decorative object and some who use them as furniture, as they’re totally functional..
7.You can’t deny that they’re very distinctive…
Yes, especially in a country like this where everything is so clean, but we’re living in the time of globalisation in which everything is interrelated.
8.How many metres of thread do you use to wrap each piece?
It depends on the size, but between 12,000 and 20,000 metres.
9.And in this process, where does the artisan method lie?
In the construction of each piece, as they’re all made by hand.
10.Do you make your pieces on request or are you given ideas to bring to life?
I work with both possibilities.
11.Is there any kind of inspiration you turn to to create your furniture?
Daily life, paying attention to what’s going in my surroundings – my eyes are always open…
12.You’ve mentioned that the next step is to apply this particular method of construction to architecture. Will that be viable?
I’m investigating how to make it happen, how to apply the steel wires, or rope or plastic, to the construction.
13.Your next project?
First, I’m inaugurating an exhibition in New York, and when I get back, I’m meeting with other artists to carry out some research. A brainstorming in which ideas should flow with new projects and activities.
Fotos: Marta Thisner / Paul Plews / Gustav Almestal / Casper Segersen
This article is also available in Español