The work of a surreal designer

His fascinating art has appeared everywhere from Vogue to the MoMA

By Steven Heller
Published October 14, 2011 12:00AM (EDT)

This article originally appeared on Imprint.

ImprintI did not think I knew Pedro Friedeberg until I was given his eponymously titled book edited by Deborah Holtz and Juan Carlos Mena (Trilce Ediciones). It’s a thick brick of pages filled with fantastic optical fabulosities, many that have appeared in Vogue; a few are on view at MoMA. There is an Escher quality to the work, mixed with a bit of the Hairy Who, as well as surrealistic and psychedelic styling.

I realized I did know his work. And you might too. If you ever saw the 1980s era hand-chair (here) you'd know a bit of his wit and humor as artist and designer.

Here's what he says about himself:

I was born in Italy during the era of Mussolini, who made all trains run on time. Immediately thereafter, I moved to México where the trains are never on time, but where once they start moving they pass pyramids.

My education was first entrusted to a Zapotec governess and later to brilliant mentors such as Mathias Goeritz, who taught me morals, José González, who taught me carpentry, and Gerry Morris, who taught me to play bridge.

I have invented several styles of architecture, as well as one new religion and two salads. I am particularly fond of social problems and cloud formations. My work is profoundly profound.

I admire everything that is useless, frivolous and whimsical. I hate functionalism, post modernism and almost everything else. I do not agree with the dictum that houses are supposed to be ‘machines to live in’. For me, the house and it’s objects is supposed to be some crazy place that make you laugh.

Americans do not understand Mexicans and vice versa. Americans find Mexicans unpunctual, they eat funny things and act like old-fashioned Chinese. When André Breton came to Mexico he said it was the chosen Country of surrealism. Breton saw all kinds of surrealist things happen here every day. The surrealists are more into dreaming, into the absurd and into the ridiculous uselesness of things. My work is always criticizing the absurdity of things. I am an idealist. I am certain that very soon now humanity will arrive at a marvelous epoch totally devoid of Knoll chairs, jogging pants, tennis shoes and baseball caps sideway use, and the obscenity of Japanese rock gardens five thousand miles from Kyoto.

[Learn about the Smithsonian's Teen Design Fairs in the Weekend Daily Heller.]

Pedro Friedeberg

Pedro Friedeberg

Pedro Friedeberg

Pedro Friedeberg

Copyright F+W Media Inc. 2011.

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