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Animal chairs from Maximo Riera continue to amaze

Looking for a piece of furniture that’s really different, something you can be pretty sure no one—but no one—else will have among your circle of friends? Have you considered a “sculptural seating entity” designed by Spanish artist, sculptor, poet and designer Maximo Riera? He is most famous for his series of animal chairs, and there is no getting around it: they are peculiar. Some would say hideous, but that’s a matter of taste. It’s safe to say that where these creations are concerned, context is all. They probably wouldn’t do at all in a room that’s otherwise filled with conventional furnishings—or would they? Riera says that he chose to design his chairs this way precisely because the chair is such a common, “banal” object in our lives. “I wanted to make it more present and create a stronger link between the spectator, the piece and the surroundings.”

It’s possible, looking at these sculpture-chair creations to imagine that the artist is putting us on, but he sounds sincere enough. “Each one is designed to bring together the complex art of human design and nature’s splendour, in perfect harmony,” he said in a Daily Mail piece recently. He seems to really care about the animals, leading him to a decidedly eccentric labour of love that we can share in.

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The Hippo chair by Maximo Riera. It is life-sized, over three metres long, made of polyurethane and metal.

The hippopotamus chair is an accurate, life-sized representation of the animal that preserves its massive size and volume, and is detailed down to the skin pattern. Seen from the other side, it appears to be a complete hippo. Where would one put it? In a production of Dr. Doolittle?

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The rhino chair by Maximo Riera. More of a “throne” than a simple chair.

Describing the rhino chair seen above, Riera said that he hoped to give more people the chance to appreciate the beauty of the animal and its “authoritative force.” Perhaps an appropriate “throne” for the chairman of the board?

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The walrus chair, from Maximo Riera, is a chaise longue.

In the walrus, Riera created a chaise longue on which the recliner would “share the same perspective” as the animal itself. In creating it, the artist took pains to preserve the texture and heavy wrinkles of the skin. To prevent “an artificial result” he used the most accurate biological data he could. The result is an “outstanding piece” with a vital spirit, he says.

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The whale chair from Maximo Riera, a tribute to the blue whale’s “aquatic majesty.”

The whale is possibly the least startling, most conventionally beautiful of all the animal chairs. It’s designed to be a centrepiece in a wide, open area (perhaps next to a water feature). Riera claims to have a bond with the sea, a bond that gives the whale special meaning and relevance to him.

In addition to those pictured here, Riera’s animal chair collection includes an octopus, a toad, a rhinoceros beetle, and an elephant. They are all limited edition and range in price from about $50,000–$120,000.

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