Q&A: Bert Löschner

The Art of the Plastic Chair

German artist Bert Löschner gives wit and expression to the plastic lawn chair. He asked our questions on bringing the garden chair to life, where his inspiration comes from, and which of his chairs is best for sitting. 

How did you begin experimenting with chairs – particularly the common plastic chair?
You see this plastic chair everywhere! Odd, but really cheap to produce.
Not consequent enough designed to say it is unsightly, stackable up to 30 chairs in one pile.

I tried it, no problem! In an aesthetical way, [it is] so in-between everything. This contrast between the design and the popularity changed my perspective about the value of innovation, aesthetics and functionality. Like other everyday objects, the monobloc chair is something we have in mind. A certain un-removable picture. This picture can be used as a canvas.

In your detailed drawings and sketches, you use play on words and images to create unexpected images – your chairs linked around a tree, in particular, made me laugh. Where does the inspiration for these designs come from?  
It's a mind game, a perspective ping-pong: A chair in a certain situation: what would the chair do in this situation? Then back to me: what do i think when i see him doing this? Like in a lot of games, sometimes you have a long rally, sometimes not and it depends on who’s starting this game. The swinging chair definitely started with the term. The rocking chair is a chair which is "rocking".   

The chairs have surprisingly expressive, human-like gestures – tell us about the process of conveying this emotion using plastic.
The process is quiet natural, like learning how to walk. A progression of experimenting, learning, unlearning and using. While learning includes defined researching, I prefer to experiment before I go on to the next level.

Unlearning means bringing these experiences into the sub-consciousness. When you are at this stage you don’t need to think about sawing, heating or screwing anymore. You simply express your thoughts.

The movements of swinging or wobbling are actions they already do, I just helped these objects express these actions. From this point of view, it is just a logic consequence that a waterproof garden chair has to carry an umbrella.

How long does it take to create most of the sculptures?
Still too long! As you can see in my blog there are way more sketches then objects.
It may look like I exclusively work with these chairs, but it`s just one project and I’m thrilled to start new ones.

Can you still sit on any chairs? Would you want to sit on the chairs?
I love to sit on the bench made of hugging chairs, it’s a really inviting gesture. You can see it as emotional design caused by function. The function of a chair is way more than sitting.
It also exists to represent, present, communicate, protect, help, to confine and so on... For example, the valet is not a chair made for sitting. You can sit on him when you’re tying your shoes but the real function is to assist.  It’s not the first chair created to fulfil this function.
The innovation is that this chair truly shows what he is made for.

Photos courtesy Bert Löschner.

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