Nicolás Aracena Müller at Chamber

If you happen to have been wandering under the High Line in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood sometime over the last week, you might have seen something you don’t see every day — the bespectacled, wild-haired Chilean designer Nicolás Aracena Müller making chairs from found scraps of wood in the gallery windows of Chamber, a concept shop and exhibition space opened last year by Juan Mosqueda. Müller was enacting a New York City–specific version of something he invented called Atalaya, or Improv Carp (short for carpentry), where he uses his urban surroundings as both canvas and research facility.

Using the principles of improvisation, the found material is not altered, but suggests the design itself.

The process was conceived “during a visit to a former barrack, now known as the Atalaya Playa Ancha warehouse in Chile,” reads the artist’s statement. “In this location, among the many abandoned scraps found within piles of sawdust, Aracena Müller created a series of chairs. Using the principles of improvisation, the found material is not altered, but suggests the design itself. The concept behind Atalaya is that, instead of modifying the wood following a predetermined conception, Aracena Müller conceives an improvised building system through cuts and joints that generates different functional objects such chairs, stools and tables. This building system presents a two-fold pursuit: the maker’s search for particular locations to discover each individual scrap, and the user’s search for product functionality once the objects are finished.” The finished chairs are on view at Chamber now, along with the tools Aracena Müller used to create them. We’ve included some of our favorite creations from the project here today.

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