The Artist’s Choice
Based solely on their curriculum vitae, the prospect of interviewing Sonia and Oscar might seem a bit intimidating. As accomplished academics – both are science professors at the University of Chicago – it’s safe to assume they’re both exceptionally bright, with an in-depth knowledge of complex scientific concepts that leaves many of us scratching our heads.
When our conversation starts, any sense of intimidation dissipates immediately as Sonia and Oscar are incredibly warm, welcoming, and eager to share their lives. While their intelligence is always evident, their passion for both their work and their art – both are accomplished fine artists – makes conversation easy, comfortable, and rewarding.
They pour themselves into everything they do, and their enthusiasm is contagious. Over several conversations, the pair shared details of their creative avocation. They made clear that they’ve embraced Moser furniture because it aligns with their lives, their aesthetic inclinations, and their dedication to the practical value of fine craftsmanship.
In March of 2020, the University of Chicago followed suit with institutions through the United States and transitioned to an all-virtual format. For Oscar and Sonia, that meant switching to remote instruction and outfitting their home for an indeterminate period of near-quarantine conditions. Once their technology needs were sorted, they decided to optimize their home art studio to continue a long-term art project they’d initiated through the Hyde Park Art Center. Like the University, the art center made plans to cancel in-person instruction, so Oscar gathered their supplies and brought them home.
As experienced mosaic artists, Oscar and Sonia had elected to do an ambitious Smalti mosaic. Smalti involves the cutting and placement of intricate glass tesserae, and their home studio was set up with a high workbench where they could shape the gemlike Smalti from larger glass pieces. They perform the work using a traditional, curved hammer and edged Hardie that allows for precision cuts. The glass is distinctive for both its rich color and texture. It’s also unique for its origins – and its limited availability.
Reminiscence of a Cathedral by Frantisek Kupka
“Several years ago, we learned that Smalti glass is only made in two places in the world. One is in Italy, and the other is near Cuernavaca, where we grew up in Mexico,” said Oscar. “Each time we travel home, we always return with as much Smalti glass as we can fit in our luggage.” The work requires absolute precision and is incredibly time-consuming, often engaging the pair for as long as six hours at a time. After a few sessions, they recognized the importance of comfortable, ergonomic seating. “When we’re cutting the tesserae, we spend a lot of time leaning over the workbench,” said Oscar. “The seats we were using weren’t providing very good support, and it was beginning to take a toll on our lower backs.”
Given the table’s height – and the height of the easel holding the mosaic – they wanted a pair of stools that would provide comfortable support while complementing their thoughtful décor. After searching and comparing options at a range of price points, the two returned to what they knew and loved: Thos. Moser.
“We considered a lot of styles and manufacturers,” said Oscar. “But we didn’t want to purchase something that wouldn’t last – and we didn’t want to compromise on a style we didn’t like.” After pondering their research, Oscar and Sonia returned to the craftsmen whose work they already knew well and selected two High Stools.
Sonia admiring the piece that inspired their mosaic,
Reminiscence of a Cathedral, by Frantisek Kupka.
The mosaic Sonia and Oscar are creating, inspired by Kupka’s art.
Since purchasing the High Stools, both Oscar and Sonia have spent countless hours at the bench and easel as their mosaic gradually and methodically takes shape. “When we’re working, we lose track of time,” says Sonia.
Oscar and Sonia were kind enough to share their progress on the Smalti mosaic. It’s an impressive work that speaks to Oscar and Sonia’s appreciation for careful craftsmanship- the same appreciation that first drew them to Moser furniture.
Like so many of our customers, Oscar and Sonia don’t simply purchase furniture. They curate items in their home that showcases skilled craftsmanship and their belief in an aesthetic – and an ethic – that aligns with their own. We’re honored to have earned a place in their lives.