Chamber’s Capsule Collection #3: Atalaya

Wood-working meets performance art, with rustic furniture as the final product

With an array of tools, Nicolás Aracena Müller stands just beyond the windows of design boutique Chamber in NYC’s Chelsea neighborhood. There, while the gallery space is open to visitors and passers-by, the Chilean architect and carpenter has been crafting inspired stools and benches from reclaimed wood, for all to see. With a view in mind to lift the mystery behind Aracena Müller’s beautiful process, Chamber has been presenting the artist himself making the very products they will sell come 7 August 2015. And each piece is as curious as it is functional—and it’s only bolstered by bearing witness to the creative process.

The origin of Aracena Müller’s capsule collection for Chamber, called Atalaya, is modern and contrasts the rustic pieces he crafts. According to Michael Vince Snyder, the Director of Chamber, “With some of the designers we feature, there’s a lot of premeditation about it. There’s a curator we work with on the collection and he or she has distinct ideas. They have people in mind. But sometimes it is spontaneous. With Nico [Müller], actually Juan the founder of the gallery saw him on Instagram and thought his work was really amazing. We got in touch with him and one thing led to another. We have elastic programming here. It’s dynamic and not hierarchical.”

He has created his stage set and is performing within it. Each day he makes a new piece.

A core component to Aracena Müller’s collection draws from the Chilean design studio, ARMÜ, that he founded. Urban landscapes play host not only to inspiration, but also act as a canvas and therein “Improvised Carpentry” occurs. This is witnessed first-hand at Chamber. “We unloaded all the wood here, into the middle of the gallery, because we wanted to make it centerstage,” Snyder continues. “Nico brings selections of it up front, to his workshop.” His workshop consists of a tool cabinet, a work bench and even hand-built tools. There, “he works in the window so people passing by can see him building these things. He has created his stage set and is performing within it. Each day he makes a new piece.” The expectation is that there will be 10 pieces. The completed pieces are then brought back to where the repurposed wood is housed for a well-rounded viewing.

“We were talking about his process, and it’s an amazing thing to watch. He went out wandering around the city with a truck and picked up all these amazing used pieces of wood—basically salvaged wood. The whole thing has gone on like an ongoing, shifting, evolving installation,” Snyder concludes. As for the performance element, Aracena Müller notes, “There are two different types of people. Some people think I am a worker here—working in the gallery for something like a renovation. They ask if the gallery is open. Other people see my work and ask about what I am making. They go to the back and see the wood, and ask where I am from and ask me for my plan for the furniture. I don’t have a plan for it. I only want to improve each piece.”

When Chamber burst onto the Chelsea gallery scene in 2014, it was met with critical acclaim and fervent interest. An exhibition featuring pieces constructed on site by a Chilean carpenter who was digitally discovered continues to reflect the forward momentum of the space. And while all of this is important, the fact that the furniture in the Atalaya truly impresses means the most of all. There’s natural beauty to the source material and the final products.

You can view Aracena Müller at work in the windows of Chamber from now until 6 August 2015. The exhibition of all completed works will commence on 7 August 2015. The pieces will be on sale for between $4,000 to $6,000.

Lead image courtesy of chamber, all other images by David Graver