August 11, 2011

Give it a Hand please...

A hand to hold your bottom
Hand Chair by Pedro Friedeberg

The wonderful, the sublime, the beautiful, and to some, the creepy: the hand chair. Do you love it or loathe it?

Personally, I love it. I have seen Mexican sculptor Pedro Friedeberg’s hand chair used, up close and in person, and in many editorial pieces. In my experience, people tend to have very adamant opinions about the notion of such a chair. Let’s examine its positive attributes: its sculptural, its conversation worthy, and it’s a functional place to sit. Not many pieces of furniture can claim such diverse utility. Of course, there are many different versions of the hand chair floating around now, but we’ll begin with probably the most notable and recognizable done by Pedro. Here we see it used in haute design:

Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan’s palm beach apartment via Metropolitan Home

Nate Berkus designed home for Brian Atwood via Elle Decor
(Don't believe that's a Pedro chair, it sort of looks like one of the wood versions from Bali below.)
Kelly Wearstler designed home office via Vogue Living

Kelly Wearstler in her Foyer
Some of Pedro's hands are joined by a foot
What I like most about the Pedro’s hand chair is that it’s surreal, it’s whimsical, and a little tongue in cheek, which makes it all the more stunning (if you have the real Pedro). Most importantly, it merits a chuckle. Certainly, laughter was even Pedro's intention. (read about him here.)

But Pedro was a true 'artiste,' and thus his pieces are not only valuable but also timeless, regardless of your taste. But what if you don't have the $ for the real deal? Would you still furnish your living room with a hand to hold your bottom?

For centuries designers and artists claim nature as their muse. Even the most modern and abstract pieces may draw inspiration from the human form, or from natural surroundings. So God made the hand in such a way that when cupped, it can mimic the shape of a seat. Pedro took it, elongated it, abstracted it, and gilded it (in many cases) to create his masterpiece. Unfortunately, or fortunately, he did not have a copywright on the hand. And thus we've seen thousands of versions of the hand chair.

Here are some from a Balinese Company. Hand carved of hardwood, they look pretty interesting to me:

What's beautiful to me is creepy to a friend who says the nails freak her out.

Here's one that seems to be saying 'A-Ok' ...
I can imagine one certain hand gesture that might take this idea a bit too far.
And here's a whole inventory full, looking like they're waiting to catch a fly ball.
Much further down the hand chair food chain (think cheap) are the plastic versions, which come in a rainbow of colors from ebay...

What's at the end of this rainbow? Buster from Arrested Development....

If not you, Buster Bluth from one of my all time favorite TV shows, Arrested Development, loved his red hand chair. There was even a plotline where he rescued his favorite chair from his mother's philandering habits:

Hey, what's good enough for Buster..

Apparently what's good enough for the immature and socially inept Buster is good enough for me. You read that right. I actually fell victim to one of these plastic numbers from ebay, and provided lots of laughs and odd looks from my friends, family and houseguests. Whether the jokes were at the expense of me, or the hand chair is yet to be determined. But here's the evolution of mine:
I was so excited to get my hand chair that I painted it gold and put it in the living room-the first room you see when you enter my house.  What, dare I ask, does that say about me?
I loved the whimsy and the contrast of the antique French chair juxtaposed with the more modern, suffice cheap, hand chair. I also felt it spoke pretty well to my life and my design aesthetic --to not take oneself too seriously. While it provided lots and lots of conversations, suggestions that it move to my four-year-old's room, and fights over who got to sit in it, my favorite moment with this chair was when someone suggested I paint the nails red. True story.

Don't worry, the chair didn't move because I succumbed to pressure. It only moved because I found these two beauties (thank you again ebay):
I can no longer say, "take my hand," in this room without referring to my actual hand.

So the chair moved to the TV room below a large painting:
I liked that it added a sculptural contrast to what's on the wall behind it.

Most recently it has moved outside where it collects rain, and provides a new territory to mark for my lab:
A sculptural territory for a tasteful lab to mark.
So maybe my taste isn't so discriminating when it comes to the hand chair. But I'm all sorts of lost when it comes to the mitt and foot chairs:
Just no. Unless its for a playroom.
I just am not a foot person. Sorry.
Now, for those with a foot fetish, maybe?
PS:Blogger, why is the formatting so messed up on this post? ugh.


Boo Hazard said...

Oh you know I LOVE it!! Although mostly all I think about is Kelly Wearstler - why does she have to put it in every room?! I must say, I love the chair in it's original room best - although your ebay chairs are to die for! It adds that quirky personality to the room! Is it easy to sit on? I always thought they'd feel like you were falling off it?? - BOO

Katherine said...

It's actually comfortable...maybe cause I'm such shorty, but the thumb is actually a perfect resting spot for your hand. Lol...sounds funny!

goldfine said...

I find these chairs creepy! However I do love me some Buster - juice box please!

Keri Pollock said...

I just watched that episode of BUSTER BLUTH... love your blog and love buster bluth too.

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