Rational Beauty

Wieki Somers

A few Sundays ago I found myself standing in front of Weiki Somers’ very red “Chinese Stools—Made in China, Copied by Dutch” (2007) at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. I had seen them published in various publications (American Craft, New York Times’ T magazine, etc) but the impact of seeing them twinkling in lineup at full scale stopped me in my tracks. They are casted aluminum from stools that Somers acquired while taking residency in Beijing the summer of 2007. She became curious about the customized street stools and the daily life in the fast growing Beijing metropolis.

Somers explains on her site, “These ancient chairs were often barely recognizable, having undergone so many improvised repairs and modifications. I was struck by their many charming details, which connect the diverse materials and parts, and link them to their respective makers. The stools testify to a long history in which both the maker and the user have left their traces. When I started to purchase some of these stools, the neighbors noticed by admiration, and they all invited me to their homes, where I became acquainted with the many stories attached to them.

Finally I decided to cast a few stools in aluminum. The original stools vanished in the process, but in this way I could preserve their memory from the ravages of time and pay homage to their makers. The colours of the stools refer to the other side of Beijing (some would call it the modern side): the public display of prosperity and pride by putting sparkling extra layers on cars and products.”

A few rooms later I came across Somers’ “High Tea Pot” in “On the table” exhibit showcasing a collection of utensils and dishware from various designers expanding nearly 100 years. As stated on Somers’ website, “A porcelain pig’s scull is a teapot, the tea-cozy is made of rat’s fur.” She explains the piece is about were the ‘tasty and unsavory, harm and delight’ are inseparable and it is her intentions to make “you get curious how the tea actually tastes.” The object isn’t for looking only—the vessel can pour tea!

Somers graduated from Design Academy in Eindhoven in 2000. Her objects are produced mostly as limited productions and collaborates frequently with specialized artisans, ceramicists, etc. You can learn more about her work by clicking here.

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Chinese Stools — Made in China, Copied by the Dutch 2007

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High Tea Pot

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High Tea Pot

“The stools testify to a long history in which both the maker and the user have left
their traces.”—Weiki Somers