Chinese stools by Wieki Somers

Design Miami 07: Dutch designer Wieki Somers has reversed the stereotype that the Chinese copy western designs by imitating chairs she saw while working in Beijing.

Somers showed some of her "Chinese Stools - Made in China Copied by Dutch" range at Design Miami last week.

The chairs are based on customised seats seen in the streets and used by street vendors, rickshaw drivers and so on.

Photos are by Pien Spijkers.

>> see Made in China by WokMedia for another example of western designers exploring the Chinese vernacular.

Here is some text from Somers:

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Chinese stools - made in China copied by Dutch (2007)

In cooperation with Dylan van den Berg, Somers spent one month in Beijing, China, for the project ‘Entity Identity’. Here they worked with the expertise of Chinese craftsmen in their traditional workshops to create products which are inspired by the metropolis Beijing.

“As a response to the extremely fast growing metropolis, in which everything seems temporary, I focussed on the small things of daily street life. In all kinds of places in Beijing we found customised seats used by people such as security guards, street vendors and rickshaw drivers.

These ancient chairs were often barely recognisable, having undergone so many improvised repairs and modifications. I was struck by the many charming details, which connect the diverse materials and parts and link them to their respective makers.

The stools, probably cherished a lifetime, testify of a long history in which both the maker and the user have left their traces. When I started to purchase some of these stools, the neighbours noticed my admiration, and they all invited me to their homes, where I became acquainted with the many stories attached to them.

Finally I decided to cast a few stools in aluminium. The original stools vanished in the process, but in this way I could preserve their memory from the ravages of time and pay homage to their makers in the meantime. The colours of the stools refer to the other side of Beijing (some would call it the modern side): the public display of prosperity and pride by putting sparkling extra layers on cars and products.’