The Dwell 24: Parafernalia

The Monterrey, Mexico-based design studio offers a fresh interpretation of a classic outdoor chair, to delightful results.

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Design studio Parafernalia, in Monterrey, Mexico, is into heavy metal. Not necessarily your Black Sabbaths or Iron Maidens but other kinds that can be melted, bent, and wrought. For a collaborative exhibition, one of the studio’s founders, Genki Matsumura, liquefied bismuth—with a pan in his kitchen—to create a table lamp with a lavalike face. For another project, he and his partner, Sebastián Zorrilla, set down the chemistry books and looked to local history.

They were intrigued by the paraíso chair, a fixture in backyards across Latin America that maximizes airflow with a steel-framed design. Matsumura and Zorrilla’s recent collection includes an aluminum update to the chair called Horchata, painted a shade of off-white that mimics the color the paraíso eventually turns after years outside. (They’ve since released the chair in other colors.) "We were referencing the fact that these chairs would just stay in the garden," Matsumura says. "There’s no maintenance routine for these. They just stay there forever."

Courtesy Parafernalia

Read the full Q&A with Genki Matsumura and Sebastián Zorrilla below.

Hometown: Monterrey, Mexico.

Describe what you make in 140 characters... Material discourses as tools for (de)contextualizing critical perspectives, resulting in objects whose materiality inform their design.

What’s the last thing you designed? A metallic lamp using bismuth for the shade.

Do you have a daily creative ritual? Packing a notebook everyday wherever it may fit, just in case.

How do you procrastinate? Watching informative videos and playing videogames.

What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? The mailbox because it seems like such an unexplored concept—plus most of the time the ones you can find commercially are a little over the top or unnecessarily overdesigned.

Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? Gaetano Pesce, Issey Miyake, Nujabes, Rumi Ando, Archy Marshall.

What skill would you most like to learn? Programming and welding.

What is your most treasured possession? Very, very, very old Frozono from The Incredibles action figure, bicycle.

What’s your earliest memory of an encounter with design? Saw an Eames lounger on an inflight magazine once and was enamored.

What contemporary design trend do you despise? Fat wooden stools or chairs that use a LOT of material for no real objective other than a whim.

Finish this statement: All design should... All design should be self-conscious and self-informed.

What’s in your dream house? A BIG workshop for building, making and prototyping whatever I want.

How can the design world be more inclusive? Leaving behind the archaic and elitist custom of only promoting artists with hype or friends in the right places, truly performing an in-depth investigative labor for finding new talent. Actually giving opportunities to up and coming emerging talent, from anywhere it may come.

What do you wish non-designers understood about the design industry? It takes time and effort to make things, lots of time and lots of effort.

You can learn more about Parafernalia on Instagram.

View the 2023 Dwell 24!

Top Image: Courtesy Parafernalia

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