A bumpy white chair filled with black holes.
Photo: Valentin Russo

Marlène Huissoud Crafts a Provocative Chair for Insects

By Aileen Kwun
October 26, 2019
2 minute read

Chairs are to designers what paintings are, say, to fine artists: an enduring, if traditional, form that’s often tied to one’s creative signature. For the London-based designer Marlène Huissoud—who’s known to take a hands-on craft approach, and counts honeybees and silkworms as “collaborators” on her vases, armoires, and tables—devising a chair was the next natural step. “As a designer, it’s important to design a chair at some point in your career,” says Huissoud, who’s gained international recognition for her unearthly yet literally earthly works. For whom and how the chair would be made, however, was entirely up for experimentation.

At the London Design Festival in September, Huissoud unveiled “Please Stand By,” a chair made not for a human arse, but for a bevy of insects. “I liked the idea of dedicating my first chair to insects and not humans, asking humans to look at nature and wildlife in general with a new eye,” she tells The Slowdown. Crafted from natural clay, then coated for weatherproofing, the curious organic form is elegant and bulbous in shape, speckled in white and gray tones—patterned to “reflect what insects are generally attracted to in nature,” she says—and pocked with hundreds of small holes to “host” the insects. An oasis for biodiversity and shelter from those pesky beings that have made earth so inhospitable to wildlife (that is to say, us), it’s both a statement piece and an active stance for the future. “I’m very concerned by the ecological crisis,” Huissoud says. “And, as I have always said, I don’t think it’s a time to cry, but a time to act, and who can ask questions and solve problems better than a designer or artist?”