PEASANT FURNITURE

This project seeks to establish an exchange between local craftsmen (whose work contains a great cultural value and is in risk of being lost because of heritage chains ruptures) and an architect/designer that develops and builds wood furniture by hand in Paris, France.

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This cross of experiences is intended to have a cultural impact by continuing the production of furniture in the country, for countrymen and also for the region and eventually for other countries. This project does not pretend to develop "the" contemporary peasant furniture, but rather become an example of cooperative work between craftsmen and designers, with the objective to demonstrate that the use of traditional techniques in contemporary creations is a symbol of dynamism, quality and innovation, and they can become a source of inspiration to projects that may have an influence on developing a local identity of craftsmanship and design.

 Don Jorge Oses, Totora craftsman

Don Jorge Oses, Totora craftsman

 Rodrigo Fuentes, Master cabinet maker

Rodrigo Fuentes, Master cabinet maker

 

BATRO (TOTORA)

The Bulrush leaf, which grows on the sides of river Maule, is characterized by its flexibility and length. It has been used since precolumbian times to produce tights in agriculture, as a waterproof material for housing, and even in boats and rafts. These are only a few of its multiple applications. We chose this material because of its great versatility in order to test different applications, based on the research of diverse craft techniques.

 Jorge Oses, totora craftsman, collecting leaves by the side of Maule river. February, 2016

Jorge Oses, totora craftsman, collecting leaves by the side of Maule river. February, 2016

DESIGN

The design for each piece complements the traditional peasant furniture techniques as well as Sebastian’s work, which is made by hand using noble indigenous woods. His technique is based in joinery solutions that are shown as finishing details. This technique doesn’t use screws, nails or bolts.

RESULTS 

Our first design was based on the Silla Matera (Mate Chair), a type of chair that used to be formerly found in probably most Chilean households. It is characterized by  its low legs, which allows to seat close to the ground next to a brazier to drink warm mate.

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This chair served as a reference for the armchair design. This armchair is higher and deeper and it has arm rests and a wooden back rest.  As the Silla Matera, the armchair is fabricated with indigenous chilean Raulí wood which was directly woven on its structure.

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On the other hand, the bench includes three detachable frames for the seats, fabricated with joinery systems that allows more fibers to remain shown around the frame, rather than hidden.

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The last piece corresponds to a Mixed Use Unit. It is a bigger size structure, which besides working as a seat, it can be used to store and organize objects. It includes vertical mountable panels, with woven Totora as a way to explore the material and show its versatility. This final piece is a proof that furniture design can go beyond its traditional uses.

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TEAM

Sofía Bustamante is a Journalist graduated from the Universidad Católica de Valparaíso Sofia participated in an exchange program to the Université Lille III, in France. She worked at the Cultural Corporation of Easter Island and TVN (Chilean National TV). Later on, she lived in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She visited several cities during the past World Cup to write articles for TV and magazines such as Forbes, Travesías, Viaje Mais and La Tercera.

Sebastián Erazo is an architect from Finis Terrae University. He worked with Martin Hurtado during 6 years in projects based on timber structures. In 2008, he started working in furniture manufacture. He worked with wooden joints at a small scale, allowing him to create them with his own hands. During 2013, he gained more experience in wood architecture working at Hütten und Paläste Architekten in Berlin, and later with Ciguë in Paris. He continuosly develops new furniture designs and is living in Paris.

Rodrigo Fuentes, young cabinet maker originally from Villa Alegre. He started working in this craft when he was 13 years old. His works showcases his detailed oriented skills. Rodrigo makes each piece the best expression of traditional furniture making.

Jorge Oses, is a Totora craftsman. He learnt the weaving technique of this natural fiber from his father when he was 8 years old, as a way to make a living. This is a tradition of more than six decades for him. Each January and February, he walks around the emblematic Maule River to extract the Totora plant.  He continues fabricating his products, which he sells at home or in San Javier’s Market.

Location: Villa Alegre and San Javier de Loncomilla, Región del Maule, Chile

Dates: Between August and October, 2016

Photos: Bruno Giliberto

 From left to right: Sofia Bustamante, Sebastián Erazo, Jorge Oses and Rodrigo Fuentes

From left to right: Sofia Bustamante, Sebastián Erazo, Jorge Oses and Rodrigo Fuentes

Project funded by:

Consejo Nacional de la Cultura y las Artes, Fondart Nacional de Diseño, 2016