hands on

Meet Chris Wolston and His Curvy, Handsy Furniture

While the rest of the world was going up in flames, Chris Wolston was creating magic: “In the midst of the pandemic, there was this gravitation towards [my sculptures],” the artist and designer told Interview, “I think it’s because they made people happy.” Inspired by the mountainscapes of New Hampshire and Medellín, and the painterly abstractions of Joan Miró, Wolston crafts sculptures that double as furniture, rippling joyfully in a manner that alludes to the movement of the body. His latest collection, Temperature’s Rising, is currently on view in the Los Angeles gallery Casa Perfect through January 2022. Below, the artist gets up close and personal with some of his creations, revealing the inspiration behind them and his process for creating them. 



“The last two years it seems like the world has been on fire, you know? I mean the rainforest has literally been burning. My last large collection, Lost in Paradise, was really looking at tropical landscapes and motifs as sort an entry point. Then throughout the pandemic, and everything that’s taken place over the last two years, the world has been this very volatile, burning place. I wanted to reference that. At the same time, a lot of the materials that I’m working with are recycled. All of the cast metal that we’re using for the aluminum tables are hubcaps and motorcycle engines- it’s all from the scrap yard.”



“On the sofa, there are these fur panels. The back cushions here are fox. I found this couture manufacturer in Greece that saves all of the offcuts—the remnants and scraps leftover from producing garments and sews them together into panels. The front of this is a furry patchwork, but the backside is this beautiful, quilted, mashup of all these little pieces of hide that get sewn together and sold in these panels. I was interested in the story of this material, it is made of these scraps. You can see here, these are mountain references. This is the first time that I didn’t upholster a piece. Thinking about the relationship of body and the actual physical material of furniture was something that I had in mind, so I wanted to play it up. One of the things that I’m always interested in is when you stare at a mountain landscape or a forest, there’s this extreme texture of the tree canopies. I was fascinated by that element of texture, and I wanted to play with contrast and textures. I wanted to create something that was just fully texturized.”



“With these chairs in past collections, I’d worked with anodized aluminum. But with this collection, I was interested in introducing color in other ways, besides incorporating the bright anodized aluminum. So, I decided to anodize aluminum wire and actually weave it in with the wicker. We actually use the organic wicker structure as the interior. So it’s combining the wicker and the wire. I was really interested in taking the technique and pushing it so that we could create these sculptural volumes that felt very nonlinear.”



“You know, it’s a combination of things. I was really inspired by the nonlinear detail in Miró’s paintings, looking at mountain landscapes, and the Páramos throughout Columbia, where there will be these volcanic crater lakes, which also take on this beautiful nonlinear form. Even if they’re circular, they’re still not circles. Those were the sort of things I was thinking about, as I was trying my hand at cabinets.”



“This is actually done with an outdoor material. It’s woven with the material used in Acapulco chairs, sort of like a rubber tube. I had been thinking about fantasy, and this imaginary world—I made a drawing of about 30 different chair poses that were derived from different ideas that were circulating in my mind. With the supermodel chair here, the hands are sort of taking on these very interesting poses.”



“I had conceived the hand chandelier here and there; I had done this Handy Handle for the Essential Goods Show at Fisher Parrish, right in the middle of the pandemic. I was thinking of the hand as both this human tool and the part of the body that directly interfaces with the material. That’s how I make things. I wasn’t thinking about those things directly like, ‘Okay, the hand is essential to all these conceptual elements in my work.’ It was more something that I was always referencing, that was circulating in my mind. Stepping back and looking at everything now, I can see those references.”