Dezeen Magazine

View of Masa gallery exhibition

Brian Thoreen creates chairs using thousands of pieces of paper

Local designer Brian Thoreen has created a set of four chairs made of stacks of manila paper as part of an exhibition at Masa gallery during Mexico City art week.

Called Paragraphic in Four Stacks, the piece comprises four separate chairs, each made of 3,000 stacked pieces of wrinkled manila paper – the type of paper used in envelopes.

Each of the sheets of paper was individually glued to the piece below it. The sheets are only glued on the seat of the chairs, so that the natural tension created by the glueing process forces the edge of the paper to start tilting up, creating the back of the chair.

Brian Thoreen's paper chairs in white-walled gallery
Brian Thoreen created a set of chairs made of thousands of stacked pieces of paper

"This is the first exploration into using manila paper stacks at furniture scale," Thoreen told Dezeen.

"Using industrial paper has a strong history in art, but is mostly known for use in file folders and envelopes that hold and store information and tie our world together like books."

According to Thoreen, it took 10 people working for a month to wrinkle and glue all the individual pieces of paper together.

Detail of paper chairsDetail of paper chairs
The chairs are glued in the middle creating a tension that elevates the edges

Thoreen's piece was part of an exhibition held at Masa, a Mexico City gallery founded by Thoreen and local designers Héctor Esrawe and Age Salajõe.

The exhibition was the first collaborative show between Masa and New York art gallery Luhring Augustine.

Hector Zamora stacked terracotta lamps
Thoreen's work was presented alongside terracotta lighting by Héctor Zamora for Masa's exhibition

It included eight visual artists from Luhring Augustine, shown alongside Masa's designers, and was meant to revive the spirit of the building that Masa currently occupies. This was described as a home where "eclectic gatherings that brought together artists, writers, and other notable figures" were held.

Thoreen's work was framed by wall hangings made from resin and steel by British artist Rachel Whiteread.

Other design pieces in the show included a series of stacked terracotta blocks by Mexican artist Héctor Zamora. LED lights fill the inside of the stacks, emitting lights through the holes in the blocks.

Local design studio EWE included a massive bench made of pink Portuguese marble. The bench has a blocky form with semi-circular cut-outs on the top, creating seats.

Florida-based sculptor Mark Handforth contributed a 276.9-centimetre-tall cast aluminium sculpture called Bela Lugosi, which sat next to Héctor Esrawe's stainless-steel-rod-lined Frecuencia Bench.

Metal bench and cast iron sculpture
A bench by Héctor Esrawe was presented alongside a sculpture by Mark Handforth

Born in the United States, Thoreen practised in Los Angeles for years before relocating to Mexico City in 2018.

Masa Gallery has been in its current location since 2022, after years of being a "nomadic" gallery, showing in unusual locations including abandoned mansions in Mexico and a post office underneath Rockefeller Center in New York City.

The photography is by Alejandro Ramirez.

The Masa X Luhring Augustine exhibition is on show from 6 February to 23 March 2024. For more exhibitions, talks and fairs in architecture and design visit Dezeen Events Guide.