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Keep Calma

At their Buenos Aires shop, a couple reissues classic Argentine designs—and moves the regional furniture design field forward, one “simple object” at a time.

Calma Chicha's high-ceilinged storefront displays home wares at every scale. “Pouffes (from $46) were one of our first products, and we have become famous for them. When we first started, the traditional, pear-shaped version was the only one on the market. So we started doing other shapes, including oblong ones big enough to seat three people. The covers, which can be changed, are made of elasticized gabardine, so they stretch to accommodate every type of bottom. We were the first here to make sheets in cotton jersey ($95). And we sell a lot of cowhide placemats ($15), as well. Argentina is a big exporter of cowhide, but it’s much cheaper to buy here. It’s worth remembering that the hides are from animals that have already been slaughtered for meat, so the material does have an ecological aspect."

When textile designer Carla Bonifacio and entrepreneur Diego Olinik moved in together in the early 1990s, they had trouble finding well-designed, reasonably priced pieces with which to outfit their new home. So they decided to open a shop and make their own. Calma Chicha, located in Palermo Soho—a once industrial, now trendy neighborhood in Buenos Aires—has since become renowned among design-savvy locals and in-the-know tourists seeking unique keepsakes to take back home.

The majority of the products at the 1,938-square-foot emporium are designed by Bonifacio and Olinik. They’re all made in Argentina, from the vivid gabardine pouffes to the reissued, cowhide-covered B.K.F.  chairs, originally designed in 1938 by three architects and today the country’s most iconic design piece. Another item the couple has rescued from the obscure archives of Argentine ephemera is the jarra pingüino, a rustic wine vessel shaped like a penguin that landed on every taberna table around 1940. “Most of our designs are very simple, with little adornment,” says Olinik. “We are more about strong forms and high quality.” Here are some of his favorite pieces, new and old, plucked off the shelves of their shop.
 

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