Designer Ricardo Páramo’s reading room for the CAB (Centre of Arts Caja de Burgos) is an irreverent celebration of furniture design.

The new reading room of the CAB (Centro of Arts Caja de Burgos) is a space unified by the use of a unique material finish on the surfaces of all the furniture. Spanish designer Ricardo Páramo’s concept celebrates the history and diversity of furniture design, while subverting the seriousness of design icons. The result is a grand, artistic installation in a museum setting, which is also still a living, functional space.

Commissioned as part of a broad redevelopment of some of the CAB’s exhibition spaces, the library’s reading room is a new space, bringing new opportunities for the museum to interact with its public.

As conceived of by local designer Ricardo Páramo, the new reading room is a celebration of the breadth and diversity of furniture design; and the multifariousness of the collection of pieces used also plays with the current trend for eclecticism in interior design. The use of a high-technology polymer coating to unify all the components takes the concept one step further than traditional re-use and upcycling, and the end effect is, ultimately, a playful poke at the elevation of specific pieces into a pantheon of “iconic” design.

Originating from a haunting childhood memory of an exploded fire extinguisher covering everything in a parking garage in a uniform colour and detail-obliterating texture, Páramo uses the coating here to efface specificities and pare each piece down to its basic form. The many components are all unified by and also subordinate to the overall schema so that the positioning of the pieces barely matters. Within the schema, chairs by IKEA sit alongside those by Thonet, Driade and Vitra, alongside artisanal pieces, and alongside creators whose names are lost to history. The end effect is to iconify all the pieces, the high-end and the mass produced, the classic and the modern, the elegant and the kitsch, equally. All being elevated to the same pedestal, the result is a celebration simply of furniture design, itself.

This furniture equivalent of a pop “supergroup” plays in concert with the contemporary interior design aesthetic based on heterogeneous eclecticism. Páramo’s concept of having varied typologies coated by a de-contextualising, uniform surface literally requires many sorts of furniture. The special surface coating also builds in the re-use, repurposing and reformatting of these existing chairs. “It’s a cheeky way to use furniture which already exists,” says Páramo. “And to make an upholstered chair that can be left out onto a terrace.”

The material used, which unifies the space and the concept by colour, a unique surface appearance and the blurring of shapes, is a specially adapted form of Polyurea. Already extremely resistant – abrasion-proof, heat-proof, long-lasting and easy to clean – this version of the material has been specially tweaked for Páramo’s purpose: to create a soft, flexible, rubber surface which can be applied to any furniture surface, be it metal, wood, plastic, or fabric; and can stay on, despite continuous use, indoors and outdoors. The colour, a shocking pink (RAL 4006) reminiscent of bubble gum, is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the rubbery material, while also being the strong, singular colour required for the concept.

Being located in a contemporary art museum has opened up the space’s scope for design and modes of interaction with visitors beyond its nominal function as a library reading room. This installation wouldn’t work in a more traditional library, but here, the design allows the room to expand beyond its function to engage with the context of the location itself. A product designer, Páramo brought a knowledge of materials and processes to this project, in the process creating a singular experience space more installation art than interior design. And a cheeky act of respectful, intelligent, interventionist vandalism.

Designer: Ricardo Páramo
Project: Reading room / library for the CAB (Centro de Arte Contemporaneo Caja de Burgos)
Details: The design is composed of 55 chairs, 12 tables and 15 meter of bookshelves. The library contains more than 3000 volumes, and is specialized in publications about art exhibitions.

About Ricardo Páramo
Ricardo Páramo is an industrial designer based in Switzerland with a wide range of experience in a variety of materials and disciplines. His studio, established in 2012, develops projects, products, and commissions for international companies, institutions, startups and private customers.


Designer Ricardo Páramo’s reading room for the CAB (Centre of Arts Caja de Burgos). © Ricardo Páramo

The CAB’s reading room celebrates the history, breadth and diversity of furniture design. © Ricardo Páramo

Placing chairs from the high-end to the mass produced, the classic to the modern, the elegant to the kitsch, all next to each other, Páramo’s concept subverts the seriousness of design icons. © Ricardo Páramo

The multifariousness of the pieces refers to the current trend for eclecticism in contemporary interior design. © Ricardo Páramo

The high-technology polymer coating obliterates detail, blurs shapes and unifies all the pieces in the room with a uniform colour and texture. © Ricardo Páramo

Páramo’s concept incorporates re-use, repurposing and reformatting of the existing chairs. © Ricardo Páramo

The material used, a specially tweaked version of Polyurea, is extremely resistant – abrasion-proof, heat-proof, long-lasting and easy to clean – and creates a soft, flexible, rubber surface. © Ricardo Páramo

The Polyurea is coloured a shocking pink (RAL 4006). © Ricardo Páramo

The original chairs before application of the Polyurea coating. © Ricardo Páramo

Application of the Polyurea coating. © Ricardo Páramo