We bumped into the inimitable Sebastian Errázuriz on our very first excursion in Milan, some six hours after we'd landed at Malpensa, and he was as amiable as ever, noting that he would send a few projects our way. The "Chicken Chair" is as cheeky as any of his work, a distinctly '99%' take on a dining chair (as opposed to his last project).
If the piece itself isn't enough of a statement in itself, the Brooklyn-based designer elaborates:
The Chicken Chair came as a quick thought out of the blue. I drew it in the back of a business card and showed it to my wife and friends but they all thought it was dumb. Despite their remarks I was obsessed with the little drawing of my chicken chair and continued to carry it around with me in my wallet.
I don't know why I loved the Chicken Chair. Maybe it brought me back memories as a kid in South America seeing some chickens running on the dirt in someones back yard. Maybe it reminded me of "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" by Roald Dahl.
I create furniture pieces that incorporate conceptual and sculptural themes in a functional piece. I work a lot investigating existential issues of life and death. I have used bird taxidermy in my furniture many times, but never a live one. There was something very beautiful with the idea of bringing actual life into a lifeless furniture piece. If wooden strips are commonly used in the back rest of the chair, why couldn't those same strips close out the virtual space under our legs and create a cage for a live animal to live in? In my mind it made sense, it seemed so beautiful, obvious yet simple.
It had to be a chicken—I don't know why, but a raccoon, rabbit or dog caged under a chair would be plain wrong. I guess chickens are either always running around or caged, therefore if you where to place a cage on top of them you would probably also need to sit on the chair to avoid the chicken from toppling over the chair and escaping...
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That's where you get this tension that fascinates me; Because sitting on top of a pecking chicken in order to keep it from escaping seemed pretty scary: all that ruffling of feathers, and nervous croaking plus the thought of getting your legs and butt pecked was quite unsettling. It reminded me of the fighting cocks I had seen in Indonesia kept trapped under giant wicker baskets until their next fight.
We never see live chickens any more except skinned and cellophane wrapped in the supermarket isle. I remember reading somewhere that the US consumes more than 8 billion chickens a year, if we do the math that's roughly some 20 million per day, 250 killed per second...
I like eating chickens, but I also like for people to be aware of how they live and the consequences of the little decisions they give for granted everyday. I would like people to see a chicken again in their daily life, to find it both uncomfortable and beautiful at the same time. I see the Chicken Chair as a simple but beautiful furniture piece, an exercise in awareness a chair that literally comes to life and assumes a new function literally pocking, pecking and croaking—questioning us.