by Robert Dalheim
firstname.lastname@example.org BREAKING THE BOX
Transformable cabinets shatter the box
Brooklyn designer Sebastian Errazuriz’ mechanical cabinets break our cognitive borders.
“What’s the point in making something that already exists?” This is the mantra of 42-year-old Chilean artist and
designer Sebastian Errazuriz. The question is actualized in his entire wide-ranging repertoire, which includes architecture, functional sculptures, public art,
augmented reality applications, and his
amazing transformable wooden cabinets
-- which distort the thresholds between
design, technology, and art.
“We tend to understand reality by
constraining meaning into closed and
simplified boxes defined by previous
cultural conventions,” says Errazuriz.
“We live within these pre-established
cognitive borders, where we only tend to
see, recognize and accept as true, that
which has been previously ordered and
Errazuriz’ cabinets combine aesthetic
and utility to an extreme degree. Many
are composed of a series of slats -- each
of which pulls on ones adjacent to it, al-
lowing for a bewildering array of incred-
ible configurations. All are made using
traditional hand tools -- without the aid
of a CNC.
Each cabinet can take about a year
of research and several weeks, if not
months to fabricate, Errazuriz says. All
are created in his 5,000-square-foot
Brooklyn studio, which features a gallery
and woodshop. He employs two full-time
woodworkers, but may temporarily hire
more based on a project’s complexity.
Perhaps the most complicated of the
bunch is the Magistral cabinet -- made of
hardwood maple, bamboo, and plywood
-- whose outer layer features thousands of
sharpened wood dowels placed by hand
one at a time. The process required a
team of 12 woodworkers, Errazuriz says,
who spent six weeks individually hammering each bamboo skewer into the
previously carved wooden structure.
A set of concealed door slides are also
featured – revealing the cabinet’s inner
mechanisms and compartments. CAD
and robotic arms from Kuka aided the
The Wave cabinet, made of Baltic
Birch plywood and another in the collec-