Double Signature. A dialogue between design and artisanal excellence

Chris Wolston
José Luis Álvarez

Chris Wolston is an American artist and designer based in Brooklyn, New York and Medellín, Colombia. His work ranges from furniture to lighting, installations and sculptures. He merges traditional techniques and materials with an ironic, contemporary form of realism to achieve a wholly original post-modern result. Wolston’s tropical-pop craftsmanship lights up the imaginations of collectors and galleries worldwide, with his bouquet-lamps, rainbow cabinets and cartoon seats rediscovering fine craftsmanship. His interest in non-Western artistic traditions first came about at the Kokrobitey Institute in Accra, Ghana, where he studied before earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design, in the USA. He went on to win a Fulbright scholarship to study pre-Colombian pottery in Colombia, then opened a second studio in Medellín so he could continue his work with local artisans and their materials.

His transformation of practical objects into finely crafted pieces makes him one of the most interesting and important multi-disciplinary artists of the current times. For Wolston, the soul of an object lies in recuperating ancient skills. Terracotta, metals and woven fibres are the bedrock of his works. From self-production to joint ventures with major brands and top galleries, from anthropomorphic accessories “so full to the brim with joy they make people happy” to those made using colourful metal, Wolston’s pieces roll surreal forms and traditional craftsmanship into a single unseparatable piece. “Furnishings are objects we relate to, the primitive element creates a visceral relationship between human beings and materials.

That’s why I only want the craftsmanship to be done by hand. These days, industrialisation and mass production are causing us to lose our sense of skill, and the fascination it exerts.” Colombian José Luis Álvarez is a master sculptor and weaver of abstract forms. He first started weaving when he was 18, repairing furniture in a small wicker store. He loves challenges and attempts to develop new skills by weaving strange, rare forms. He thinks that weaving means pushing the material – and one’s own skills – to the very limit.

Chris Wolston


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