One of Nieves’ latest published books is a furniture blast from the past. A sketchbook-like publication, it displays drawings by renowned illustrator Philippe Weisbecker, sketching versions of Adirondack furniture. It’s a style many will be familiar with from the popular Adirondack chair, a wooden outdoors seat and a regular fixture in many suburban gardens.
Each drawing is inspired by a book donated to Philippe 20 years ago from a friend in New York who worked in a hardware store. “I’ve always loved rustic furniture, made from stumps, branches or pieces of wood,” explains the illustrator. “Initially I wanted to faithfully reproduce the furniture in the book. Very quickly, I realised that I was especially interested in the skeleton of these pieces of furniture, their structures and the vectors of force that govern them.”
As a result each drawing in Adirondacks is a square or rectangular form made up of neatly ruled lines criss crossing to make legs, and drawn at angles to depict its three dimensional form. The ability of the illustrator to draw items of furniture additionally shows an insight into Philippe’s past, he originally studied interior design in Paris, moving to New York in 1968 and initially working as a draftsman at an architectural firm. He didn’t actually become an illustrator until he was 30, working on editorial commissions for Time, The New York Times, and The New Yorker, and since the late 1990s has been working on his own pieces which have been displayed in galleries worldwide.
Whether it be a table, a chair or a display cabinet of some sort, each piece of drawn furniture is delicately coloured in by Philippe in coloured pencil. The quality of paper chosen, which we assume is a type of translucent or semi-transparent drawing paper, enhances the sketchbook look of Adirondacks as you can see the rubbing out from mistakes, or the block colour and hard pencil lines from a piece of furniture on the previous page seeping through. Consequently, the book not only displays Phillippe’s finished drawings but his process too. “Little by little, I even came to free myself from these parameters to arrive at simpler structural compositions, halfway between figuration and abstraction.”
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