When Argentinean artist Andrés Reisinger of Reisinger Studio first placed an image of the ‘Hortensia’ armchair on Instagram, little did he realise that the post would go viral. The dreamy chair – shown to be made entirely of flower petals – amassed thousands of likes, shares and comments. But the love soon turned to significant market interest, followed by genuine requests for sales orders. There was just one hiccup: the digitally rendered chair didn’t actually exist.
Suddenly driven to bring the piece to life, Andrés called upon the expertise of textile designer Júlia Esqué, who was also working in Barcelona at the time. The pair agreed that any tangible iteration of the ‘Hortensia’ armchair needed to replicate the beauty of nature. It would also be required to create a feeling of softness akin to sitting in a flower, enveloped in smooth and gentle petals. “The feeling you get when you receive a hug: comforting, calming, and soothing,” they say.
The ‘Hortensia’ armchair by Andrés Reisinger and Júlia Esqué for Moooi
“We didn’t have any idea of how we would manage it,” explains Júlia, casting her mind back to 2019. “We just started thinking that we would probably need two types of textile, one super soft for the petals, and another a bit thicker and elastic, to force the rubber to wrap around the chair.” Following trials with paper models, the designers produced a prototype using foam and timber. “It was a big moment for us when we had our first prototype, even though when we look at it now we realise it wasn’t so great,” Andrés says.
After four months of fine-tuning, a real-life version of the ‘Hortensia’ armchair was manufactured and subsequently released as a limited edition. Seeing their labour of love in a few spaces made a small part of the design dream come true. However, the designers felt the next leap was to make the chair more available. “I really wanted to make this project happen,” adds Andrés. But with tens of thousands of petals required for each piece, producing the chair on a large scale seemed an impossible dream.
Weighing up their options, the designers approached Netherlands-based lifestyle brand Moooi. With an experimental and eclectic collection that walks the line between art and product design, Moooi identified as the perfect partner to take the project to the next level. “From the start, we were determined to get this sensational design into homes all over the world,” says Robin Bevers, Moooi’s CEO. “With 30,000 petals you could call that ambitious, but it was such an exciting challenge to take on.”
Together, Andrés, Júlia and Moooi completed the final stage of the chair’s evolution. The Moooi team refined the design ever-so-slightly and developed an efficient laser-cutting technique to produce the chair’s signature petal upholstery, now available globally in two colours: Petal Pink and Petal Grey. “At Moooi we try to make designer’s dreams come true,” says Marcel Wanders, Moooi’s founder and creative director. “With the worldwide availability of the ‘Hortensia’ armchair, I’m glad we could make that happen.”
With 30,000 petals you could call that ambitious, but it was such an exciting challenge to take on.