Cristian Valdés- Valdés Chair (1977)

Ode to the chair

A chair in the jungle:
under the severe lianas
a sacred tree trunk creaks,
tangles of vines press high,
in the shadows
bloody beasts cry out,
majestic leaves descend from the green sky,
the rattles of snakes
quiver like bells.
A bird spanned the sprawling greenness,
like an arrow shot through a flag,
and branches hoisted high their violins.
pray in stillness,
seated on their wild bouquets.
Feet sink into
the black sargasso
of the watery jungle,
into the rainforest’s tumbled clouds.
I only request one thing
for the stranger,
for the desperate
a chair in the tree of chairs,
a throne,
disheveled and plush,
the velvet of a deep easy chair,
eaten away by creepers.
a chair,
loving the universe,
for the walkabout man,
the sure
the supreme
of rest!

Behind thirsty tigers,
bands of bloodthirsty flies,
behind the black expanse
of ghost-ridden leaves,
behind the low waters,
the thicket like iron,
perpetual snakes,
in the middle
of the thunder,
a chair,
a chair
for me,
for everyone,
a chair not
only for the weary body’s
but also for everything,
and for everybody,
to renew lost strength,
and for meditation.

War is wide like the light-starved jungle.

A Chilean Poem to a Chilean Chair. Pablo Neruda (1904-1973). Translated by Maria Jacketti


Architect Cristian Valdés (Chile, 1932) who won the Chilean National Architecture Prize in 2008 states that ‘architecture and furniture design born from an intention of building something; what matters is the origin, not the size of the thing. The process that matters is the definition of such intention as well as knowing from where it comes’.

Well, Valdés deals very skilfully with materials namely wood, steel and leather using them beyond their functional properties. He wants to design objects that inspire an aesthetical pleasure and that are also rigorously constructed. For the chair Valdés analyzed with detail the structure and constructive principles of the tennis racket Dunlop which is based on laminated wood frames joined with Ulmo wood wedges. Such constructive principles were then applied to other models.

The Valdés chair is a reference for Chilean industrial design and by the geometry of form with soft curves, ingenious constructive and structural process, comfort, elegance and creative language it became almost a cult object. Besides becoming an icon of the Chilean furniture, the successful Valdés chairs are also represented in the collections of MoMA in New York and were chosen to integrate the renovation project of Museum of Natural History in Paris.

I do believe this chair can respond to the declaration of Neruda that ‘Peace begins in a single chair’.

Author: Fátima Pombo

Photo: ©Madrid Diario