Wendy Maruyama – Mickey Mackintosh Chair (1981)
The Mickey Mackintosh Chair from 1981, in maple wood with zolatone paint by Wendy Maruyama, is one of the American Studio Craft movement’s most renowned designs. The 1980s avant-garde approach of combining an iconic, high-backed classical chair form with the legendary Mickey ears makes this chair a subtle and unique piece.
The idea is a simple one: What if a Charles Rennie Mackintosh high-backed chair had a pair of Disneyesque mouse ears? The result is a witty and concise object, which employs classic postmodern ‘pastiche’ technique, the unexpected juxtaposition of historical points of reference, and is also rendered in the flat, highly legible, ‘semiotic’ style, common to furniture of that era.
The surface of the chair is true to its period. In an ad hoc spirit, Maruyama covered up the wood with zolatone paint – a sprayed product, usually used in the interiors of automobile boots, that creates an automatic ‘spatter’ effect. This appropriation of a kitsch, industrial material might be compared to Memphis’s adoption of plastic laminates in the same year.
Following the Mickey Mackintosh chair Maruyama developed her style, often expressing her own identity as a Japanese-American, hearing-impaired woman in a largely white, male-dominated field.
Author: Anna Marie Fisker