Pia Maria Raeder: Collecting Stardust
Through innovative techniques with wood and metal, Pia Maria Raeder is crafting a distinctive body of work in the collectible design world. Her almost anthropomorphic collections capture a sense of nature’s mystery, its hidden creatures or glimmering stardust, while exuding luxury and the beauty of the handmade.
“I want to enchant people,” says Munich-based designer, Pia Maria Raeder, whose intricate, highly meticulous sculptural furniture, lighting and objects reflect the intangible beauty of nature.
Raeder began designing furniture in 2014, after already establishing herself as a TV journalist, where she loved putting stories together but longed to do something with her hands and make something that would last generations. She began doing apprenticeships to learn hands-on about materials such as fabrics and wood, and then spent a year in her garage playing around and working, inviting experts to come and advise on techniques and equipment. For Raeder, it was wood that clicked the most as a material and which led her to create her first collection, Sea Anemone. “I wanted the work to connect with nature in some way, with my abstract interpretation of nature”, she says. Sea Anemone is a collection of furniture, objects and lighting, which uses lacquered beechwood rods often mixed with shiny metal surfaces or mirrored glass. The rods are made by hand, with certain pieces requiring hundreds and into the thousands to build up the sculptural, amorphic forms that reflect their anemone name. Like bursts of energy, the rods create a vibrating, textural surface. The Oval Standing Mirror, a tall piece made with white lacquered rods, was one of the first pieces that Raeder exhibited with Parisian gallery, BSL, launching her career in the collectible design world. Her Sea Anemone Chair from 2017 uses 44,000 white lacquered beechwood rods that are arranged on the back of the chair in a wave-like pattern. While the process of precisely shaping and lacquering thousands of wooden rods might sound mildly tedious to some, Raeder finds peace in the process, which acts like an anchor, grounding her as she accumulates and grows the work, giving life to the forms as she builds.
For her recent collection, Stardust, Raeder wanted to evoke “a feeling of seeing a sky full of stars, that glimmering, diamond dust that dances across the night sky.” To create this effect, she turned to metal, particularly liquid silver, “which gives the widest spectrum of light,” she notes, and creates that glowing, lustrous surface, seen for example in Stardust Bench, a long, sinuous piece made with 23,000 beechwood pearls with metallized surface.
Her Gold Stardust Chair, recently exhibited at PAD Paris in April, is about light and sunshine, “like when you look at the ocean and the surface is like liquid gold,” she says.
Raeder has always been drawn to bronze and its rich, natural patina. For a new collection of indoor and outdoor furniture to be exhibited in November in Miami, Raeder has been researching for nearly two years to get the right results. The pieces are cast using clay moulds, with some, if not all of the parts made of bronze. “It is all very satisfying and exciting to see this dream become reality,” she says.