Clara Porset is an uncommon woman of her era. Born in Cuba, studied in New York and settled in Mexico. She travelled frequently throughout Mexico and fell in love with their culture, craft and tradition. Due to this, all her work blends with Mexican heritage with brutalist and Bauhaus influence. She also incorporated natural materials and traditional art themes into an abstract. The abstract was mostly the stark likes and crisp silhouettes which were mostly associated with European Morden design.

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Clara Porset_©factoría habana

1. Butaque Lounge Chair | Clara Porset

The Butaque chair is a hybrid of a Spanish X-frame chair with the pre- Columbian ritual little seats called Duhos. Due to the Clara Porset, the Butaque chair became very popular in the 20th century. The designer succeeded in creating the new Butaque after different formal analyses and ergonomic studies. The curved legs, seat and back are its unique features. These are made from small boards that are very easy to join. Giving importance to the workmanship of the Mexican craftsmen, the designer decided to explore different materials for the seats like leather, upholsteries(different patterns) or materials such as ixtle. To create a psychological string between Mexican people and furniture, Clara Porset used rustic and natural materials. This gives rise to the relation between design, culture and society. The design evolved as time passed from 1940 to the 1950s. So did the materials and patterns.

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Butaque Lounge Chair_©Guillermo Soto
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Butaque Lounge Chair_©www.1stdibs.com
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Pair of Butaque armchairs by Clara Porset in an exhibition at the Museo Franz Mayer in Mexico City, 2006_©www.donshoemaker.com

2. Wicker Lounge Chair

Due to the influence of Mexican life, this chair is designed in the Mexican modernist style. The blend of the European modern aesthetic with Mexican culture and craft has become a fascination for Clara Porset, thus resulting in the product – Wicker Lounge Chair. With the solid iron rods as frames, the chair seems very light and gives an airy vibe. The natural Wicker has a nature that patina over time. The shape of the wicker chair is what makes it special. The base of the chair has two arrowheads pointing upward to balance the weight. The seating height is about 13” above the ground with a seating depth of 16.5”. The total dimensions of the chair are 38.5” X 22.75” X 30.75” (width X depth X height).

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Wicker Lounge Chair_©www.cb2.com
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Wicker Lounge Chair_©www.cb2.com

3. Wicker Dining Armchair

An iconic chair designed by furniture and interior designer Clara Porset. This chair blends her European modern aesthetics with her fascination with Mexican culture and craft. This chair is made of natural wicker that will patina over time. Along with this, the solid iron rod construction gives the skeleton to this chair. The iron rod is finished with matte black colour. This chair is mainly used for dining purposes. The height and depth of the seat are 16.5” and 17.25” respectively. The dimensions of the chair are 29” X 34.25” X 21.24” (width X depth X height).

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Wicker Dining Armchair_©www.cb2.com
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Wicker Dining Armchair_©www.cb2.com

4. Clara Porset Folding Chairs

The name itself signifies the purpose of the chair. The folding chair is well known for being easily portable and also for space conservation. This chair dates back to Mexico circa the 1950s. These chairs are considered side chairs rather than main furniture. The materials used for the seating area are handwoven Rush cane with a wooden frame painted black and the backrest is made of leather which makes the chair flexible for folding. The original cane seating is still intact and has not been replaced in the present time. Whereas the leather in the backrest has been replaced since the leather has worn out. The other parts of the chair are made of wood and are also painted in black. The dimensions of the chair 14.75” X 18.5” X 32.5” (width X depth X height) are quite interesting.

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Pair of Folding Chair_©www.1stdibs.com
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Pair of Folding Chair_©www.1stdibs.com
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Closer view of the leather attached to the wood_©www.1stdibs.com

5. Walnut and Woven Rush Divided Settee | Clara Porset

The divided settee is one of the multi-purpose chairs designed by Mexican designer Clara Porset. This chair comes in pairs. These two chairs mirror an image of each other since these are one-arm chairs. They can be used separately or placed side-by-side as a settee. The material used in this chair is bold modernist walnut frames with handwoven rush seats and backs. Still, the chair is in good condition with original rushing and only the oiled finish is renewed in a period. These chairs were designed during the 1950s. The height of the seating is about 14” and the dimensions of a chair are 24” X 28” X 28.5” (width X depth X height).

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Walnut and Woven Rush Divided Settee_©www.1stdibs.com
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Walnut and Woven Rush Divided Settee_©www.1stdibs.com
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Walnut and Woven Rush Divided Settee_©www.1stdibs.com

6. Lounge Chair

Being a Cuban-born designer, Clara porset has designed the chair in the Mid-Century Modern style. The majority of the material used in this chair is a braided straw which covered the back and the seating area showing excellent handwoven craftsmanship. The hand rest and the leg of the chair have exposed wood showing the contrast between both the materials. This chair was also designed from 1950 to 1959. The given height of the seat is 14”. The overall dimensions of the chair are 28” X 35” X 29” (width X depth X height).

Lounge Chair_©www.1stdibs.com
Lounge Chair_©www.1stdibs.com
Lounge Chair_©www.1stdibs.com
Lounge Chair_©www.1stdibs.com
Lounge Chair_©www.1stdibs.com
Lounge Chair_©www.1stdibs.com

7. Woven Rush Folding Screen

The folding screen acts as a temporary folding partition wall which allows the users to have a private space inside the room. This kind of space is mainly used as a dressing area, in a commercial building, office space and so on. Since it is foldable it is easy to store when not in use and the space required is also less. This folding screen was designed in the year 1950. This room divider is made of a handwoven rush of wicker with the support of a wooden frame. The material is also used to function as acoustical separation. In the present day, the woven material is in exceptionally good condition regardless of its age, but some extremely minor signs of age can be seen on the wooden frame. The dimensions of this room divider are 61” X 1.5” X 41” (width X depth X height).

Woven Rush Folding Screen_©www.modernhausdesign.com
Woven Rush Folding Screen_©www.modernhausdesign.com
Woven Rush Folding Screen_©www.modernhausdesign.com
Woven Rush Folding Screen_©www.modernhausdesign.com

8. Chairs in Mahogany and Cotton

This chair was specially designed for the lounge area by the Mexican modernist icon designer, Clara Porset. This lounge chair was presented at the Clara Porset exhibit at Franz Mayer Museum in Mexico City. This product design can also be seen in the exhibit’s catalogue. The material used in this chair’s seating is cotton and the framework is made of Mahogany. Mahogany is a type of timber which is used commercially for most products, due to its colouring and durable nature. This chair was designed from 1960 to 1969. Present condition of this antique chair is in good condition and the dimensions are 29.53” X 23.62” X 32.28” (width X depth X height).

Chairs in Mahogany and Cotton_©www.1stdibs.com
Chairs in Mahogany and Cotton_©www.1stdibs.com
Chairs in Mahogany and Cotton_©www.1stdibs.com
Chairs in Mahogany and Cotton_©www.1stdibs.com
Chairs in Mahogany and Cotton_©www.1stdibs.com
Chairs in Mahogany and Cotton_©www.1stdibs.com

9. DM Nacional Desk

The desk was designed and manufactured during the 1960s. The completed table was made of steel. To prevent the table from rusting and other causes, the entire desk is anodised. Three sides of the table are covered with a mesh steel panel and one side is left open. The mesh panel has a dimension of approximately 1’ and has space on all four sides. It also has a cabinet with a pull-out drawer. Over time the table has worn out with age and use, so the original paint has been replaced. The dimensions of the desk are 44.1” X 30.32” X 29.14” (width X depth X height).

DM Nacional Desk_©www.1stdibs.com
DM Nacional Desk_©www.1stdibs.com
DM Nacional Desk_©www.1stdibs.com
DM Nacional Desk_©www.1stdibs.com
DM Nacional Desk_©www.1stdibs.com
DM Nacional Desk_©www.1stdibs.com

10. Chaise Lounge Chair | Clara Porset

The pioneering mid-century designer Clara Porset, has found the right recliner for us, the wicker chaise, with no need for adjustment. This chaise lounge chair was originally made of laminated plywood with woven rattan materials. The rattan material is a thin jointed stem of a palm, used to make furniture. Later on, the wood was replaced by steel and rattan with wicker. The steel is finished with matte black. Just like most of the products designed by Clara Porset, this chair is also handmade. The seat height and the seat depth are 17inch and 20inch respectively. The overall dimensions are 67” X 20” X 27” (width X depth X height).

Image from Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Esther McCoy Papers_©www.core77.com
Image from Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Esther McCoy Papers_©www.core77.com
Chaise Lounge Chair_©www.cb2.com
Chaise Lounge Chair_©www.cb2.com
References:
  1. CRAFT. n.d. Clara Porset – The Butaque Chair. [online] 

Available at: <http://craft-culturalheritage.eu/2019/11/27/the-butaque-chair-by-clara-porset/> [Accessed 27 April 2022].

  1. CB2. n.d. Sillon en Mimbre Wicker Lounge Chair | CB2. [online] 

Available at: <https://www.cb2.com/sillon-en-mimbre-wicker-lounge-chair/s182739> [Accessed 27 April 2022].

  1. 1stdibs.com. n.d. Clara Porset Folding Chairs 1950s MEXICO Leather Handwoven Rush on Black Wood For Sale at 1stDibs. [online] 

Available at: <https://www.1stdibs.com/furniture/seating/chairs/clara-porset-folding-chairs-1950s-mexico-leather-handwoven-rush-on-black-wood/id-f_18981712/> [Accessed 27 April 2022].

  1. Core77. n.d. Clara Porset’s Tropical Modernism – Core77. [online] 

Available at: <https://www.core77.com/posts/44878/Clara-Porsets-Tropical-Modernism> [Accessed 27 April 2022].

  1. 1stdibs.com. n.d. Clara Porset Chair – 10 For Sale on 1stDibs. [online] 

Available at: <https://www.1stdibs.com/buy/clara-porset-chair/> [Accessed 27 April 2022].

  1. MODERNHAUS. n.d. Hold for Julie/RARE Clara Porset Mid Century Woven Rush Folding Screen Room Divider from Mexico. [online] 

Available at: <http://www.modernhausdesign.com/product/rare-clara-porset-mid-century-woven-rush-folding-screen-room-divider-from-mexico> [Accessed 27 April 2022].

  1. Lin, C. and Lin, C., n.d. Modernist Designers Series / Clara Porset — Form + Field – San Francisco Bay Area Interior Designer. [online] Form + Field – San Francisco Bay Area Interior Designer. 

Available at: <https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.formandfield.com/blogposts/featured/modernist-designers-series-clara-porset%3fformat=amp> [Accessed 27 April 2022].

Author

Nivedhakavyasree is a young Architect who believes that her passion for writing and her love for architecture can be brought together. Bringing out a fictitious idea into everyone's vision is one of her areas of expertise. For her, the search for new is like a never-ending thirst.