Hot Seat


By Chantal Gordon
Photos by Brevin Blach
(Published in July 2010 Issue)

Furniture designer Alberto Vieyra’s aesthetic call-to-arms came when he was about 13 years old, and it came on wheels-in the form of a mint-condition 1957 Cadillac El Dorado with a black exterior and textured white vinyl interior.

“It was my neighbor’s car, so I could stare at it every day,” says Vieyra. “The opening for gas was inside the taillight. I was in love with the futuristic look of it-it was like a spaceship.”

Vieyra’s childhood fixation with future looks was also fueled by his having grown up in Mexico City, where the skyline is graced by architectural masterpieces. These influences converge today in Vieyra’s furniture, which takes the common interpretation of mid-century design-and explodes it.

Take, for example, his Origami Table. Inspired by the $2 million Lamborghini Reventón and (duh) origami shapes, the table’s base bears geometric lines reminiscent of the facets of a diamond. And whereas famed Japanese-American designer Isamu Noguchi’s mid-century tables have a swooping anemic-chic look, Vieyra’s table is gracefully substantive.

On the lighter end of the design spectrum, other works from Vieyra Designs include tall tables that pair spindly, angular wire legs with marble and granite tops that are inset with cactus-growing planters. For now, the designs are custom-made for a Los Angeles- and Palm Springs-heavy clientele, but Vieyra says he’ll soon begin showing his works in local shops in addition to on his website.

Having moved here three years ago from Columbus, Ohio-where he ran his own gallery and worked as an interior designer-Vieyra was a hit at the San Diego-born trade show, Thread, back in April. And while Mexico City remains in his thoughts, much of his current work is inspired by sights in his new hometown, including the Timken Museum in Balboa Park and the Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
“San Diego infuses the modern-urban lifestyle with a laidback beach-town essence,” says Vieyra. “To me, this is what incites creativity, art and design. The combination of cultural diversity and ideas inspired by the people who arrive here from other cities and countries-that’s what makes the local art and design scene have its own identity.”

Today, Vieyra’s in the midst of launching his “Tiempos Modernos” collection of custom furniture composed of metal, wood and granite, and ranging in price from $300 to $3,000 apiece. One of his first pieces will be an origami-inspired egg chair, reminiscent of acclaimed designer Eero Aarnio’s celebrated Ball Chair, with a green interior and a white exterior covered in Dupont car paint.

“A lot of people don’t know how furniture can be art, and that it can make a space beautiful...or horrible,” says Vieyra. “I’m always dreaming about the future. It’s going to change in five or 10 years, because we’re going to conceive of it in a different way, but in this moment, this is how I picture the future.”

Photos (from top): “DF 1968” table; “White Dining Table and Chair” in Vieyra’s kitchen; Eero Aarino’s Ball Chair, one of Vieyra’s current influences; Vieyra in front of his “Objeto Viviente” table.