You won’t find electric chairs on death row anymore (save in a few notable Southern states that still think it’s 1908). You will, however, find them in the foyer at La Scala, the most famous opera house in the world.
Well, sort of. Italian plastic manufacturer Kartell tapped Robert Wilson, the experimental theater director, playwright, and all-around Da Vinci of the stage, to design seven transparent polycarbonate chairs impregnated with neon lights. Ergo: "7 Electric chairs." The set will be on view at La Scala—where Wilson premiered a Monteverdi opera recently—until September 30.
The full name of the collection is actually "7 Electric chairs… As you like it" referring to Wilson’s inspiration here, Jacques’s famous monologue in Shakespeare’s As You Like It ("All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players"). The monologue talks about the seven stages of men. Each chair will be sold in a limited edition of seven. Wilson turns 70 on October 4. See a pattern? Wilson reveals how he started thinking about the project: "From the number seven."
As for why Wilson—who’s probably best known for his production of Philip Glass’s minimalist opera Einstein on the Beach—is designing chairs for Kartell in the first place: It turns out that the guy is a mega chair freak. The New York Times has a great interview with him in which he discusses nothing but chairs: how many he owns ("Probably 800 to 1,000"), why he loves them ("Chairs are like sculpture"), and even the vibrant personalities he ascribes to them ("I had one for Freud, one for Nijinsky, one for Queen Victoria, Joseph Stalin and Albert Einstein"). Wowsa. Read more here.
[Images courtesy of Kartell]