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Cross Cultural Chairs

Onomatopee 193

Cross Cultural Chairs is a research project that studies the ritual of gathering and sitting within both a local and global framework. Matteo Guarnaccia, the project’s initiator, travelled to the 8 highest populated countries where he collaborated with designers and artisans in each country to produce a chair that resonates with the cultural context of that specific society.

The habit of sitting, the act of gathering, and the making of a chair all differ per country and depend on cultural context, available resources, and inherited knowledge. Where in one country one prefers to sit on a wooden chair, in another one may prefer to sit on the knees, on the ground, or on a cushion. The cultural context of furniture differs highly across the globe. And yet, if we look at what is available in stores worldwide, it sometimes seems as if we are all supposed to sit on the same monotonous, mass-produced chair. How can we better understand the cultural context of furniture around the globe with respect towards its culture- and site-specificity?

Over the course of 8 months, Cross Cultural Chairs travelled to the 8 most populated countries in the world to delve into this question. Together with local artisans, designers, researchers, and curators, Cross Cultural Chairs explores both the technical and social aspects of furniture, in order to better understand the impact of globalization on both the design of the chair itself and its consumption.

The Cross Cultural Chairs installation at Onomatopee shows the chair with which this project started off – the white plastic garden chair – and a wide variety of research material, images, and questions. With the installation, Onomatopee wishes to ignite a cross-cultural conversation on sitting globally in a (now more than ever before) local context.


During Dutch Design Week, Matteo Guarnaccia will give a presentation / talk about the Cross Cultural Chairs project. Date & location (t.b.a.)



Onomatopee 193, Matteo Guarnaccia, 2020

Cross Cultural Chairs

8 chairs from 8 countries: diversifying modern seating

€ 25

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The anatomy of our bodies requires sitting; but do we design seats in the same way? Has our meaning of sitting been colonised by Modern design? And how is the diverse, social-cultural act of sitting itself reflected in this functional commodity?

In observing and analysing social and cultural differences through chairs from eight cultures in the most populated countries, Sicilian designer Matteo Guarnaccia went on a field research to portray each country, in collaboration with selected local design studios, to situate each cultural context into the form of a chair. This project diversifies the supposedly mundane parts of chair-culture and chair design, to open the conversation of identity, community and a reality divided into a global and local conglomerate expression through chairs.


Matteo Guarnaccia is a Sicilian designer based in Europe. After studying design in Barcelona, he had work experiences in Los Angeles and Madrid. Bouncing around inside an artistic environment he had the opportunity to expand his visions and thoughts in different artistic fields, such as graphic design and music. Numerous travel experiences helped Matteo to have a wider understanding on his surrounding, pushing him to learn from any new input. Believing on the true necessity of problem solving, he uses all different communication tools in order to bring a solution to the problem, that might be small, but eventually make a bigger difference in a wider impact. Matteo is currently applying his creative services, from graphic designs projects to products, only when is truly needed, while keep learning and smiling. Matteo is happy to have worked and collaborated with Tate Modern Exchange, CERN, Kvadrat China, Curro Claret, The Institute for PostNatural Studies, The Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro-Brazil, The National Gallery of Modern Art of Mumbai-India, Archivo y Arquitectura Mexico City- Mexico, the Macan Museum Jakarta-Indonesia, the African Artists Foundation in Lagos- Nigeria and many more..

167 x 240 mm / 6.6 x 9.5 inches (portrait)
approx 354
Matteo Guarnaccia
Introduction Interviews by FormaFantasma and Aldo Cibic followed by contributed texts by Tulio Amarante, Ana Elena Mallet, Hisashi Ikai, Ayos Purwoaji, Shell Xu, Spandana Gopal, Alexandra Sankova and Wale Lawal
Studio Albert Romagosa, Matteo Guarnaccia
Matteo Guarnaccia
Release date
Galaxie Polaris, Times Ten
Editorial assistant
Giulia Catalano
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