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Interview with Spanish Artist Máximo Riera

By Goedekershomelife @goedekers
furniture design octopus chair

Riera’s Octopus Chair, the first piece in his Animal Chair Collection. All photos are copyright Máximo Riera.

Máximo Riera is quite the renaissance man. He is an accomplished painter and published poet, but he is most widely known for his furniture designs, especially his Animal Chair Collection. In fact, two chairs from the collection are set to be featured in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, coming to theaters this Friday.

Before I interviewed Máximo, his representative Jose Sanchez was happy to explain the collection in depth. “The Animal Chair Collection is a limited edition project,” Jose said. “Only 20 pieces of each chair will be ever produced. Each one comes with a certificate of authenticity, signed by the artist. The whole collection will be constituted by 15 different pieces.”

Click through to read more about how much time and effort go into making the pieces of the Animal Chair Collection, as well as Máximo’s answers to all my questions about his life, inspiration, and artwork.

 

Jose thoroughly explained the process of making the Animal Chairs. “Every piece is manufactured to order, taking approximately 9 weeks to produce,” Jose said. “Each one needs an average of 190 hours of machinery and 170 hours of workman as it is assembled, sanded and painted by hand, which makes them unique.”

“The pieces are made in high dense polyurethane and contain an internal metallic frame, which allows holding the structure and weight of the composition,” Jose continued. “They have required the highest technology (CNC) and engineering to develop and manufacture. More than 30 professionals from 5 different companies have been involved in the development.”

Here is the price list he enclosed. It shows you just how massive and impressively constructed they are:

  • The Beetle Chair £32.000, (207cm X 120cm X133)
  • The Octopus Chair £35.000, (173cm X 129cm X 130cm)
  • The Rhino Chair £40.000, (171cm X 155cm X 88cm)
  • The Walrus Chair £45.000, (215cm X 104cm X 138cm)
  • The Toad Sofa £55.000, (180cm X 101cm X 200cm)
  • The Whale Chair £60.000, (235cm X 234cm X 236cm)
  • The Elephant Chair £65.000, (297cm X 230cm X 167cm)

As you can see, currently the collection only has 7 different pieces. I don’t know about you, but I personally can’t wait to see what else Máximo has in the works to complete the collection.

furniture design rhino chair

The Rhino Chair.

And now, without further delay, an interview with the artist himself, Máximo Riera.

I understand that, before you retired, you had to divide your time between your artwork and your medical profession. How did you carve out time to devote to your projects?

I have tried to combine both of my biggest joys, nature and art. It is always easy to find time in life when it is dedicated to your passion. The creativity world could be in any job, as in any kind of art, because it is closely related to sensibility. No matter what you do, creativity can and should be always present.

Did your time in the medical field influence or inspire your artwork at all?

I guess I have always been a perfectionist. If there is something that both fields have in common is accuracy and precision. As most of the animals, we use tools to achieve a purpose. It was a difficult task to find and develop the technology necessary to achieve this project. I am trying to push the boundaries to get the best possible result for my work.

painting designer maximo riera

Lluvia Nocturna.

You have explored many different art forms and media: painting, poetry, and furniture design. Which came first? Did trying one art form naturally grow out of another?

I started with painting, but I am trying to be flexible and not to stick to one particular style or genre. I am always trying new techniques and materials. From brainstorming, I have the intention of creating something new and different. Art always has to break boundaries, and being an artist nowadays means that you have to take risks in order to create something new/different – innovative. This is the key to make Art evolving.

You are most widely known for your Animal Chair Collection. Which piece from that would you say is your favorite?

Being the first one, I have to say: The Octopus Chair. There are certain things that you might predict or presume in life. However, an octopus is unexpected; its shape and balance makes this piece unique among the chairs. 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.

Your website says your Animal Chair exhibition in Beverly Hills is your first appearance in the United States. How does this make you feel? Are you proud of this accomplishment?

It is always a pleasure to be able to show your Art and Creations to an audience. And it makes it more special to have a location like The Greystone Mansion. 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. And I trust that the American public had a good time at the show.

I’ve been told your Octopus Chair and Rhino Chair will be featured in the latest Spider-Man movie. How were you able to pull this off? Did you approach them, or did they approach you?

There is no mystery: Columbia Pictures got in touch with my studio in London, which looks after all the marketing and advertisement worldwide, with the intention of featuring two of my pieces. I believe that it has something to do with the fact that the villain in the new Spider-Man film is The Rhino. I was more than happy to collaborate with them.

Which piece of artwork (furniture, painting, anything) would you say is your favorite, and why?

I think that it is unfair to choose a ‘favorite piece’. In my opinion, when an artist/designer allocates or designates a piece as finished, it is because she/he is absolutely satisfied with the job and consequently there is no room for a possible improvement or development at that point. In other words, each piece have to be your favorite, otherwise you will never be fulfilled by your work.

You seem to have written several poems. Have you ever gotten your poetry published, or is it something you do for yourself, not recognition?

Recognition is a consequence, not a motive. I have been published in several magazines, I have collaborated in a few books, and I have published my own.

yellow porch chair

One of the pieces in Máximo’s Porch Chair collection.

What inspires you?

The inspiration stems from my life experiences, places that I have been and people that I have met. Nature has been a constant element in my life. From time to time, I have the necessity of being surrounded by wildlife, which is the reason why I have always lived somewhere near the sea.

What are your plans for the future?

I am working on new and exciting pieces to extend the Animal Chair Collection, which will be available in the near future; at the same time, I am finishing a new series of Consoles, Stools and Tables. Both pieces are produced by debris from authentic millenarian olive tree wood found in the South of Spain (an area well known for its tradition in olive oil production, one of the finest and purest in the world). The wood is treated and polished in order to show its natural and peculiar grain, characteristic of these ancient trees. Needless to say, every single piece is unique as it retains a natural state and rustic appearance.

 

I would like to thank Máximo very much for his time and care in answering my questions. If you would like to view more of his artwork and furniture design – and if you know Spanish, even read some of his poetry – click here to visit his website.

Interview with Spanish Artist Máximo Riera by Sarah

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