The Dwell 24: Wilkinson & Rivera

Grant Wilkinson and Teresa Rivera reinterpret traditional wooden furniture with a Surrealist bent.
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With pieces that could be mistaken for props in a painting by a certain Spanish Surrealist, Grant Wilkinson and Teresa Rivera reinterpret traditional wooden chairs, stools, and tables with surprising outcomes.

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Artists, makers, and designers, the husband and wife duo established their eponymous label midpandemic in North East London in order to "introduce movement to a rigid material," says Rivera.

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They shun straight lines for curves and squiggles—leading internet commenters to dub the chairs "nervous." But there’s nothing anxious about their Windsor remixes, whose stance, style, and position are assertive, confident, and refreshing.

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Rivera speaks of "not reinventing the wheel but filling gaps in the market," yet they are mounting an overdue rebellion against the Cartesian oppression of midcentury modernism in furniture design. Once you see their work, most other furniture seems disappointingly square.

Read the full Q&A with Teresa Rivera below. 

Hometown: New York City

Describe what you make in 140 characters. We make hand-crafted work that straddles art and design.

What’s the last thing you designed? To completion: an armchair and a coffee table, but we always have things on the go!

Do you have a daily creative ritual? Nothing particularly poetic—just a cup of coffee to start the day.

How do you procrastinate? I love getting lost in Wikipedia. It’s not a reliable source, but an entertaining springboard nonetheless.

What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? Baby stair gates. There are so many things wrong with baby stair gates.

Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? We generally look to artists—particularly sculptors at the moment. Louise Bourgeois and Isamu Noguchi first come to mind.

What skill would you most like to learn? We’re keen to further our knowledge of materials—stone and clay are house favorites at the moment.

What is your most treasured possession? Our son! Though he's not a possession, he’s definitely a treasure.

What’s your earliest memory of an encounter with design? I grew up hearing my parents (civil engineers) waffle on about the quality of roads and bridges throughout the city: their design, how they functioned, pros & cons.

What contemporary design trend do you despise? None come to mind, to be honest.

Finish this statement: All design should... care about people.

What’s in your dream house? A library.

How can the design world be more inclusive? From a financial standpoint, exclusivity starts early. Kids should be allowed to cultivate creative impulses without families being left out-of-pocket. Solutions can be found in community programs, funding for facilities, grants, scholarships, etc.

What do you wish non-designers understood about the design industry? It’s okay to not understand, just try and remember: everything in life is designed.

You can learn more about Wilkinson & Rivera on their Instagram.  




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