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jul 13, 2017

How Brazilian furniture designers changed the global conversation


If you’re thinking about a new sofa, ‘Brazilian’ may should be one of the first things in your mind. You might not know it, but Brazil’s interior design aesthetics have been causing conversation in the design world for decades already, with artists using their pieces to explore culture, identity and other topics.

Brazil first found its place on the design map in 1957, when Sergio Rodrigues’s ‘Mole’ armchair appeared. The armchair found instant fame and popularity, meaning Rodrigues’s influence rippled through the design world. With a disregard for current trends, Rodrigues’s designs featured native Brazilian materials that complimented his focus on projects, methods and materials that met users’ needs.

Today, designs have moved away from a dependence on one particular material. Concerns over environmental conservation, plus excitement over new material possibilities, mean that more and more Brazilian designers are experimenting with materials. Plastics, acrylics, metals, manufactured and recycled products replace traditional materials, while earthy tones can be switched for metallic and bright colors.

Meanwhile, others are using furniture as a means to talk about contemporary themes such as urban space, identity and comfort. Other designers are seeking to combine Brazilian and European influences, drawing inspiration from Brazil’s rich musical culture.

Although it may sound eclectic, the result is far from a collection of disjointed individual pieces. Instead, pieces smoothly flow from simpler materials to innovative constructions and back again, ranging between elegant lines to deliberately provocative shapes and hues. Brazil’s most celebrated furniture designs provide a conversation, responding to one another’s’ questions and thoughts on design, identity and culture.

Check out some of Brazil’s best-known voices in the conversation here.

Joaquim Tenreiro

Image: http://theredlist.com/media/database/design-categorie/here-and-now/brazilian-modernism/joaquim-tenreiro/014-joaquim-tenreiro-theredlist.jpg

He began his career slightly before Sergio Rodrigues, but Joaquim Tenreiro is no less celebrated. Focusing on using natural materials, Tenreiro founded his own studio in the 1940s and his aesthetic remains one of the most synonymous with Brazilian design today.

Sergio Rodrigues

Image: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/a9/fd/e3/a9fde3044d5bb9ee9d127947e3faa924.jpg

The designer who put Brazilian furniture on the map, his best known creation is the ‘Mole’ (Sherriff) armchair. He focuses largely on using native materials to channel the Brazilian spirit.

Zanini de Zanine

Image: http://www.descroll.com/wp-content/uploads/Untitled-1596.jpg

Trained by his father, designer José Zanine Caldas, as well as Rodrigues himself, Zanine Jr studied Industrial Design at PUC-Rio. His education led him to experiment with combining scrap materials with solid wood furniture.

Fernando and Humberto Campana

Image: http://assets.inhabitat.com/files/campana1.jpg

The pair made waves after their first exhibition in 1989, five years after deciding to collaborate. Desconfortáveis explored a lack of identity in Brazilian design, and the pair have gone on to use new materials to express different ideas about identity.

Domingos Pascali and Sarkis Semerdjian

Image: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/2c/b4/83/2cb4839945bed5a21f47aaf127f0e8cf.jpg

These two designers are actually architects by trade. Combining their joint passions for design and architecture, the pair have produced contemporary furniture featuring smooth lines and a distinctive style.

Isay Weinfeld

One of Brazil’s best known architects, Isay Weinfeld’s buildings are recognisable in São Paulo’s skyline. But the architect has also earned recognition for furniture designs, which feature angular shapes and a range of wood types.

Domingos Totora

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Inspired by the mountain ranges close to his home town in Minas Gerais, Domingos Totora encourages community participation and social conscientiousness through his design. He works almost exclusively with cardboard and sustainable glue paste.


Image: http://galerianicoli.com.br/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/MG_7050.jpg

Antonia Almeida and Fabio Esteves formed the dynamic team behind 80e8 to explore the relationship between man and object. Their quirky designs meant they quickly rose to fame for pushing boundaries and experimenting with materials.

Brunno Jahara

Image: http://1.design-milk.com/images/2010/11/brunno-jahara-2.jpg

Combining European aesthetics with Brazilian culture, Brunno Jahara’s designs use recycled industrial materials and are influenced by graphic design. His ‘Batucada’ collection is particularly unique, as a series of vases expressing the infamous percussion of Brazilian Carnival.

Jader Almeida

Image: https://cdn.wallpaper.com/main/styles/wp_large/s3/galleries/15/12/gartefacto-jadar-almeida-installation-006.jpg

Hailing from the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, Jader Almeida’s geometric shapes have earned him recognition in the design scene. Combining geometry and simple shapes, Almeida’s grounding in architecture also shines through in his designs.

Gilberto Paim and Elizabeth Fonseca

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This duo’s background is in ceramics, and it shows with the simple, elegant forms and minimalism that often feature in their designs. The pair frequently draw inspiration from the four natural elements: earth, air, wind and fire.

Leonardo Lattavo and Pedro Moog

Image: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/f8/ac/61/f8ac617bbcc2ed2d0d98f9a716e526c9.jpg

The architect-designer combination once again produces an innovative range of furniture designs from Leonardo Lattavo and Pedro Moog. Fluid lines and natural materials are often found in the pair’s designs.