Tuesday, Apr 17, 2012
Designed to Inspire: Wild Chairy
Meet Andrea Mihalik, the creator of Wild Chairy and all of it's beautiful chairs. Her chairs are fun, bright, bold and her story is just as inspiring as her work! Wild Chairy creates hand-crafted one-of-a-kind chairs using old world techniques and the finest earth friendly materials.
Stacy Garcia: Tell me the story behind your chairs and starting Wild Chairy? Andrea: I was an award winning photojournalist for the Philadelphia Daily News for 12 years covering everything from Popes to Presidents, it was an awesome job! The digital age occurred at the same time that I had 3 wonderful children and I decided that I needed a change. My husband got me an upholstery book for Christmas two years ago and I signed up for my first class soon after and I was hooked! I became a forty plus intern at BDDW working for free for 4 months honing my craft and then started Wild Chairy.
SG: Wow, I think a lot of people will find that inspiring and you are proof that you can make a fresh start at any age. Now, that you are up and running, what is the most interesting part of your design process? Andrea: The two most interesting (and fun) aspects of creating my chairs are the actual acquiring of the chairs and then, picking and matching the right fabrics to the right chairs. I often go to auction to purchase chairs and finding a chair with great bones and then bidding on it makes for a fun morning. After I get it back to my studio, it might take me months to find just the right fabric for it.
SG: What made you fall in love with chairs? Andrea: I've always loved chairs and was never able to resist them when I would find them at yard sales or abandoned on the curb. When my garage was full I decided I'd better do something with them!
SG: What is the project or product you are most proud of? Andrea: I recently made a chair that I call E=MC2 (pictured above) where I painted a chalkboard on the back of the chair. It took me several tries to find the right material to use to create the chalkboard until I was happy with the results.
SG:Describe your design aesthetic. Andrea: My design aesthetic always involves taking wonderful pieces from the past and making them fit into our modern world today. My home is filled with chippy, chuncky, shabby, painted pieces that are married with modern textiles or colors.
SG:I love that! Your chairs are bright and bold, how do you choose the patterns? Andrea: I usually look for vibrant colors with large scale patterns or textiles that make you want to reach out and touch them.
SG: If you could brag about your work, what would you say? Andrea: I take pride in the fact that I'm not only the designer behind Wild Chairy but also, the artisan who does the labor intensive work. From refinishing to painting, upholstering, designing, and photographing the chairs, I enjoy the entire process and make every chair by hand. Another source of pride is that I use old world techniques, such as 8-way hand tied coil springs and horsehair when I upholster. The results are long lasting and earth friendly. I feel strongly about never using foam in any products, although foam is cheaper and faster to work with it sits in landfills and takes years to decompose.
SG: If one person or place, could have your furniture who would you want to have it? Andrea:The ultimate place to have one of my chairs on display would definitely be at MOMA (Museum of Modern Art).
SG: Fill in the end of this sentence, 'My ideal Saturday consists of...' Andrea: I get up early for a run and then, head into the studio by 8:00am for a few hours. Later, in the afternoon my husband and I watch our children in their various activities;soccer, basketball and School of Rock concerts.
Thanks Andrea for a great interview!