DESENHO DA UTOPIA (2016)
SÃO PAULO, 2016
Edited By: Ruy Teixeira, Jayme vargas
Dimensions: 23,5 x 31 cm
With an extensive production of design, flourishing between 1940 and 1970, designers such as Joaquim Tenreiro, Sergio Rodrigues, Lina Bo Bardi, José Zanine Caldas, Oscar Niemeyer and Jorge Zalszupin changed the face of modern Brazilian furniture bringing it to the forefront of Latin American cultural expression during the middle of the 20th Century. The compositions of photographer Ruy Teixeira express the refinement of the pieces in question. Through his work he reveals layers of interpretation and enjoyment for the lovers of this period, through a dialogue with the works and through the historical context of each piece. Parallel to the compositions are the texts by historian Jayme Vargas, who takes the reader through the pulsating and uncertain trajectory of Brazilian modernism, synthesizing, in an elucidative way.
Branco e Preto was an architecture and design store that opened in 1952 in São Paulo. Open until 1970; the store was one of the forerunners of interior architecture and modern furniture in Brazil. Architects Miguel Forte (1915-2002), Jacob Ruchti (1917-1974), Plínio Croce (1921-1984), Roberto Aflalo (1926-1992), Carlos Millan (1927-1964) along with the Chinese architect Chen Y Hwa managed the store, all with their offices in the same building at Rua Barão de Itapetininga. The entire group graduated from Mackenzie Architecture University. A shared interest in modern architecture underpinned the motives of all these young architects who, realizing there was a gap in the market for modern furniture in São Paulo in the early 1950s, decided to create a store to offer modern designs to the São Paulo elite.
Mackenzie Architecture University was a more conservative institute in the 1930s and 1940s. Architect Christiano Stockler das Neves (1889-1982), then the professor and director, maintained a critical view of modernism, preferring neoclassicist aesthetics. However, the ideals of modern architecture appealed to this group of forward-thinking young architects who founded Branco e Preto. Having graduated in the 1930s, Jacob Ruchti and Miguel Forte approached, during the course, two architects of the first modernist generation in Brazil: the Italian Rino Levi (1901-1965) and the Ukrainian Gregori Warchavchik (1896-1972). Living together at Mina Klabin's home, Warchavchik's wife, enabled them to meet the American architect Philip Johnson (1906-2005) and the German architect Mies Van der Rohe (1886-1969). Plínio Croce and Roberto Aflalo, who graduated in the late 1940s, and Carlos Millan, who graduated in the early 1950s, also distanced themselves from the architecture taught at Mackenzie, admiring the Viennese Richard Neutra (1892-1970) and Marcel Breuer (1902-1981).
The atmosphere of São Paulo in the 1940s and 1950s was one of vivacious regeneration, not only in infrastructural projects but also in the fields of art and architecture. In 1947, the São Paulo Art Museum Assis Chateaubriand (Maps) was founded, followed by the foundation of the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art (MAM / SP) in 1948. In 1951, the first São Paulo Biennial opened. Later, Maps created the Contemporary Art Institute (IAC). These changes gave way to modern architecture and the idea of Brazilian modernism. Participating in this process, young people started working in offices and designing homes and buildings. Faced with the new task of furnishing a modern house, they were drawn to foreign desires, armchairs, and sofas with foam and upholstery.
Modern furniture options were quite limited in Brasil at the time, there was Joaquim Tenreiro's store (1906-1992), in Rio de Janeiro, which opened a branch in São Paulo in 1950, and Móveis Z, by designer Zanine Caldas (1919-2001), opened in 1947 in São Paulo, but not too much else. As a result, Roberto Aflalo proposed the idea to a group of like-minded thinkers and, the Branco e Preto store opened in December 1952 in the city center, Av. Vieira de Carvalho. The group prepared not only furniture but also curtains, lamps, and rugs. Following the idea of Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), who famously thought of the house from the inside out, saying the furniture should be understood as a "complement of architecture." With high prices aimed at the São Paulo elite, the store often served clients who had their homes signed by one of the group's architects. Made from Brazilian woods, such as jacarandá-da-Bahia, cabreúva, and pau-marfim, which were combined with glass, iron, formica and calacata marble, the furniture was seen as an extension of the materials of each residence. The designs became ever more sought after, rational and geometric; they presented lightness and simplicity, one of their characteristics being the toothpick feet, a hallmark of modern furniture. Among the furniture produced was the MF5 armchair, the slatted table, and the Millan desk.
Branco e Preto was a forerunner of the movement of the 1950s, in which Brazilian architects started to manufacture modern furniture. Two years after its creation, the Unilabor factory was opened. A year later, French designer Michel Arnoult (1922-2005) opened Contemporary Furniture. Both located in São Paulo, targeting an audience with alternative tastes but diverge from Branco & Preto in the production process of their pieces.
While their armchairs and tables were manufactured industrially, Branco & Preto furniture was handcrafted and in small quantities. Without plywood or screws, their products were designed by highly skilled craftsmen. The name Branco e Preto referred to fabrics made especially for the store by the Lanificio Filippo factory. Colors like beige and gray, upholstery and curtains, were combined with white or black stripes. The sobriety of the tones and stripes dialogs with concretism in the arts and reveals the distance in relation to sparkles, figurative prints, and excess of ornaments all so fashionable in previous years. When remembering Branco & Preto, architect Roberto Carvalho Franco (1926-2001) said that the store had "a great impact" and allowed "a portion of society to understand the meaning of furniture design."
Geraldo de Barros (Chavantes 27th February 1923 - Sao Paulo 17th April 1998) was a prolific artist across various media. He experimented relentlessly with utopian ideals, divulged through his exploration of furniture design from the mid-1950s till the late 1980s. While undoubtedly Brazilian, he drew much of his aesthetic influences from European avant-garde culture, from De Stijl and Bauhaus to Gestalt psychology.
Starting his artistic career in painting, he then found himself in photography; de Barros held a successful exhibition "Fotoformas" in 1950, the title being a reference to Gestalt. His artistic trajectory put him at the forefront of experimental photography, and in 1951 he was awarded a scholarship from the French government, which allowed him to travel and study in France. While in Europe, he also traveled to Zurich, where he met Max Bill, a former Bauhaus graduate who was collaborating at the time with the Scholl Foundation on the creation of a new design institute that had the ambition to continue the Bauhaus traditions with the integration of the human and technical element in design teaching and practice. Max Bill invited Geraldo to visit the institute (not officially opened till 1953) in Ulm, Germany, where he consequently spent some weeks attending workshops and was subsequently heavily influenced by what would be Max Bill's idea of Gute Form. The essence of Gute Form was the belief that objects, if carefully designed, can bring art into everybody's home, and art can be a way not only to reflect on the world but to make visible connections and abstractions without using verbal language. Here we can see a clear link between Geraldo's future ideals for furniture design and Bill's philosophy.
After his return to Sao Paulo and following further success as an artist, a change of government was to change Brazil. A new wave of investments from Europe was inaugurated by the president with the motto 'fifty years in five.' Modernization and industrialisation were being imposed from above. Geraldo de Barros, along with a Dominican Priest, Friar João Batista Pereira dos Santos, embarked on his first and most crucial venture as a furniture designer. In 1954 Unilabor was created and became a mechanism of modernization from below.
Unilabor was unity in work and a unity through work. The workers ran a self-managed e factory; it was a system of production that aimed to unify not only form and function but also a living community and production processes. This balance of forces certainly informed the discreet beauty of Unilabor furniture pieces. The tension that affected the products of the national wave of industrialization is clearly absent from the relaxed, warm lines of these pieces. In its context, Unilabor, in fact, quickly became a social model. It was a working environment that was perceived as healthy. It was created to be less a company, more a community.
The other two founding members of Unilabor, the engineer Justino Cardoso and the toolmaker Antônio Thereza provided specialist knowledge and skills while Geraldo de Barros made the drawings. Geraldo's approach to design was very humanistic. He intended to socialise art and its messages. By using the products, he designed for their daily activities, owners of Unilabor furniture were using art. For Geraldo, the designer's role consisted in mediating between society and industry, aiming to solve the tension between quantity and quality. João Batista and Geraldo agreed that if market trends ruled manufacturing, it eventually became informed by quantitative interests only, with a disadvantageous effect on the quality of the product and the working and living conditions of the workmen. Despite its ideals, Unilabor eventually ran into economic difficulties and eventually only lasted thirteen years.
Geraldo then dedicated himself to the furniture factory he created in 1964 with a former Unilabor cabinet-maker, Aloísio Bione. Rather than being a company with a clear aesthetics, as many Italian furniture manufacturers of the nineteen-sixties, to which it can be compared, Hobjeto Indústria e Comércio de Móveis was characterised by extreme flexibility of the form, which stays constant throughout the several lines of products Geraldo de Barros designed over the years. The furniture was also progressive, evolving to follow the dominant shapes of the time: more angular and squarer when the furniture was more geometric; more rounded when the products had softer lines; and finally made of long, continuous lines when Hobjeto introduced a furniture family made with tubular elements.
Both in the case of Unilabor and Hobjeto, interestingly, the essential component of Geraldo's design philosophy is the chair. This is particularly fascinating, especially if we consider that at the time, modular systems were prevalent amongst most industrial designers. While armchairs inspire intimacy and solitude, chairs, like sofas, have a significant social aspect. The proportions of Geraldo's chairs multiply into larger furniture items, and the environments arranged for publicity photographs are often constructed around the chair's presence.
Joaquim Tenreiro (Melo Guarda, Portugal 1906 - Itapira Sao Paulo 1992) was a, sculptor, painter, engraver and designer. Born into a family of joiners, at the age of two, his family emigrated to Brazil, settling in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro. In 1914 he returned to Portugal. He helped his father with woodwork projects and began painting classes. He returned to live in Brazil between 1925 and 1927. In 1928, he moved to Rio de Janeiro permanently. He studied drawing at the Portuguese Literary Lyceum and enrolled in the Liceu de Artes e Ofícios. In 1931, he joined the Bernardelli Nucleus, a group created in opposition to the academic teaching of the National School of Fine Arts - Enba.
After some years of dabbling in as a painter, Joaquim traversed his talents and went back to wood, "I stuck with painting up to a point, but gave it up because I could not stay away from the wood-working shop...what kept me going was furniture" (Soraia Cals, Tenreiro, Rio de Janeiro, 1998, p. 190). He designed for Laubish & Hirth, Leandro Martins, and Francisco Gomes, specializing in French, Italian, and Portuguese furniture. A decade later, he founded Langenbach & Tenreiro, which would become renowned for its modern furniture designs. Tenreiro's partner insisted on selling traditional furniture, while Tenreiro argued for a modern sensibility. In the early years, Tenreiro designed both conservative and modern furniture for their inventory. However, by the late 1940s, the modern movement had taken hold in Brazil, and when only Tenreiro's original pieces sold, the shop dedicated itself solely to contemporary designs.
His success as a designer commenced in 1942 when he was commissioned to design and manufacture the furniture for the residence of Francisco Inácio Peixoto, in Cataguases, in the interior of Minas Gerais. The residence was designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer (1907 - 2012), to whose work Joaquim identified beautifully, creating the commissioned pieces in assimilation with the purity of Niemeyer's architectural forms. The furniture Tenreiro designed for this project were the first pieces made by him in which it is possible to distinguish the sober beauty of form and the wise use of Brazilian wood so identifiable in his works throughout the next two decades.
The Light Armchair (ca.1942), made in ivory wood, with a darker version in imbuia, was upholstered in fabric stamped by Fayga Ostrower (1920 - 2001) and one of his most famous pieces. The chair was conceived according to his principle that Brazilian furniture should be light; in Tenreiro's words, lightness has nothing to do with the weight itself but with grace and functionality. Testimony to the ideological alignment of modern Brazilian furniture, Tenreiro's design is rooted in the principle of stripping back the unnecessary to demonstrate the true beauty of an object while maintaining the utmost function.
His acclaimed Three-legged Chair (ca.1947) associates geometry with colour through the particular use of Brazilian woods. It is chromatically innovative composed of a combination of timbers (imbuia, roxinho, rosewood, ivory, and cabreúva), all with varying shades. Tenreiro spoke of the technical difficulties in creating these chairs—of combining woods that retain different levels of humidity, dry at varying rates, and expand and shrink differently—but the design's success speaks to his technical prowess and to his artistic vision. Like other Tenreiro furniture of this period, it has a light and luminous appearance, contrasting with the solid and sober furniture he previously created for Laubisch & Hirth.
In some chairs and armchairs, Joaquim explored weaving natural materials such as straw that evoke indigenous braiding and basketry. The use of wood and natural fibers is generally associated with adapting furniture to a tropical climate; together with these organic compositions, other works of Tenreiro's, such as the Structural Chair, present straight lines, and geometric elements, creating structures from both wood (1957) and metal (1961). Tenreiro's deep knowledge of wood is illustrated through the poetic features in his works.
At the end of the 1960s, he closed his stores and stopped manufacturing furniture for personal and market reasons. Instead, he returned to the realms of painting and dedicated himself to sculpture. Techniques discovered during his design days can be seen in his sculptures. For example, the chromatic composition of woods he employed in the Three-Foot Chair was later resumed in some sculptural reliefs, in which the artist explores the differences in color, textures, and the veins of wood; his work Circles (1979) demonstrated this.
Tenreiro's productions are renowned for their combination of modern characteristics that define mid-century Brazilian furniture, such as simplicity, the use of local materials, function, and artistic beauty.
Jorge Zalszupin (b.Warsaw, Poland 1922 - d.São Paulo, Brasil 2020) graduated as an architect in Romania in 1945. His importance in Brazilian design is not yet fully documented. Besides owning the L'Atelier furniture factory, dedicated to modern furniture design, Zalszupin led a unique initiative: he coordinated a team of designers who worked for four different factories owned by the same business group, the Forsa group.
Zalszupin immigrated to Brazil in 1949 and, after a brief stay in the capital of the Republic, settled in São Paulo, a city beginning to commence a grand cycle of industrial growth and significant cultural transformations. In the early 1950s, he opened an architecture firm in partnership with José Gugliota. After some time, he tired of design pieces exclusively for the homes of elite clients and decided to join a group of joiners and produce small series, leading to the formulation of the L'Atelier factory, which soon began to manufacture office furniture and went from being a joinery of handmade production to an industry of mass production. The first piece of the series was made in 1959; it was an armchair, nicknamed 'Danish' by the staff. Composed of rosewood and upholstery, it features toothpick legs, and the arms and front feet resemble the columns designed by Niemeyer for the Palace of Dawn.
In the early 1970s, with serious financial problems, L'Atelier was sold to a business group, which already owned Laminação Brasil (hardware), the Hevea plastic products industry, and the Labo computer factory. The sale was negotiated with Zalszupin to maintain the position as director of product research and development. Zalszupin expanded the team of designers - which already had Oswaldo Mellone - incorporating Paulo Jorge Pedreira and Lílian Weimberg permanently. The designers baptized the business group and began to act as a creative laboratory.
The team of designers enhanced the technical possibilities offered by four different industrial plants. Hevea, which produced plastic commodities, started to produce a very sophisticated line of design products resulting in the establishment of the brand, Hevea, specializing in household items sold in supermarkets. L'Atelier started incorporating plastic into its product line, producing panels for offices and licensing the Hille polypropylene shell chair designed by Robin Day. In addition to the products sent to the market, the design team of the Forsa group tested new ideas, which form an extraordinary collection and that certainly influenced the work of Oswaldo Mellone and Paulo Jorge Pedreira.
Among his most acclaimed works is the Limestone Table, the success of the piece was determined by the materials. It consists of two simple wooden structures that support a large marble tabletop. Zalszupin lets the material speak for itself. Another renowned design of his was the Romana coffee table, based on a similar design. It has a long marble top affixed to thin, exquisitely curved wooden legs. In his work the Petalas, Zalszupin plays with an organic form inspired by flower petals. The idea works both as a large octagonal table and for a smaller one made of only four elements. Moreover, there is Zalszupin's Andorinha table, another design inspired by nature, taking the form of a swallow. He transforms this inspiration into a multifunctional table with ease, cutting out an opening in the tabletop in which he places a double 'hanger' to be used as a newspaper holder. A newspaper holder can also be seen in his Onda bench. Its sensual lines hint at waves, although Zalszupin does not allow this inspiration to be too obvious. Simple, straight metal legs balance the ergonomic waves of the seat.
His experimentation in the conjoining of different materials resulted in projects such as Veranda or 720. In both armchair designs, Zalszupin explores the possibilities of stretching leather over wooden frames. He exposes the connecting joints and elements of the structures, creating an intriguing visual element.
In his flagship project entitled Dinamarquesa or Danish Zalszupin again played with the idea of a wooden structure and leather seat pulled across the frame. However, in this model, he placed more emphasis on the elegance of the silhouette. His attention to detail and high-quality materials are reminiscent of jewellery, the lower part of its supporting legs are wrapped in what seem to be metal bracelets. The connecting joints are not exposed, yet there is a well-thought-out frame and distinctively curved armrests. Dinamarquesa may be the embodiment of what is best in Zalszupin's designs: where discipline meets the beauty of a liberated, clear line resulting in a harmonious whole that is full of emotion.
The crisis of the 1980s profoundly affected the performance of Forsa group. The design team abandoned the company at the end of the decade. Oswaldo Mellone and Paulo Jorge Pedreira opened their offices, and Jorge Zalszupin dedicated himself exclusively to architecture, an activity he never left.
Martin Eisler (Vienna, Austria, 1913 - São Paulo, Brazil, 1977) was an architect and furniture designer. He was part of a group of European architects and designers who left Europe during the chaos of the Second World War and went to live and work in Brazil. Eisler stood out amongst this group of creatives. His work was at the forefront of modern furniture design in Brazil, which flourished through the 50s and 60s. Eisler's work in partnership with Carlo Hauner (1927-1996) was of particular significance.
Eisler left Europe in 1938 due to the rise of fascist regimes. He first lived in Argentina, where he was settled and worked as an architect, set designer, and interior designer. Eisler opened up an interior design firm Interieur Forma. In 1940, he married Rosl Wolf, the daughter of German immigrants.
Born in Brescia in 1927, Carlo Hauner studied technical drawing and drawing at the Brera Academy in Milan, Italy. In 1948 he successfully participated in the Venice Biennale, after which he moved to Brazil, where he dedicated himself to the design of textile, ceramics, furniture, and architecture. After purchasing a factory from Lina Bo Bardi and her husband Pietro Bardi, he quickly founded a furniture production company, renaming it Móveis Artesanal.
In 1953 Hauner met Martin Eisler, who was looking for help to produce furniture for the home of his brother-in-law, Ernesto Wolf. Eisler reached out to Hauner, marking the beginning of a flourishing partnership. The two men connected, and with Wolf's financial backing, they opened Galeria Artesanal (a store for their company Móveis Artesanal) on a busy street in São Paulo.
Being highly ambitious and with an eye on the international market and the upcoming office market, Móvies Artesanal later changed into Forma. Along with Oca, Forma became one of the biggest names in Brazilian furniture production. Eisler attracted exclusive license to sell Knoll furniture, bringing big names in international design such as Mies Van Der Rohe, Charles Eames, and Harry Bertoia to the Brazilian furniture market. Hauner and Eisler's designs are characterized by Brazilian woods, thin tubular frames, and range from furniture to ceramics and textiles. Some of their most famous designs are the "rib" lounge chair, the "concha/haia" chair or "reversible" lounge chair, both shown in this exhibition. In 1958 Hauner decided to return to Italy to open Forma di Brescia, which catered to, e.g., the embassy of Brazil in Rome and Vatican City. Eventually, Hauner sold his part of the company, leaving Eisler solely at the helm to paint and make wine on Salina, a little isle just above Sicily. After a fulfilled life, the artist, designer, and serial entrepreneur died in 1997. Forma prospered during the 60's and 70's, until Martin Eisler died in 1977. His original company in Argentina still exists and, at the moment, is the sole heir to Hauner and Eisler's Heritage. Although Hauner and Eisler designed and produced many pieces, the depth and quality of their work outlined is only the beginning of their lasting impact on the design world.
Oscar Niemeyer (Rio de Janeiro RJ 1907 - Rio de Janeiro RJ 2012) was one of the greatest Brazillian architects and urbanists. He is celebrated in Brazil and across the world for his extraordinary work. Niemeyer may be known for his acclaimed architecture, but his lesser-known qualities are his relentless desire to design and his determination to resist conformity.
Niemeyer graduated in architecture from the National School of Fine Arts (Enba), in Rio de Janeiro, in 1934. That same year, he worked for the architect and urban planner Lucio Costa (1902-1998). In 1936, the office was commissioned to create plans for the Ministry of Education and Health (MES), in Rio de Janeiro, under the supervision of the French-Swiss architect Le Corbusier(1887-1965), whom Niemeyer assisted, as a draftsman. Based on the architect's design, Niemeyer suggested changes that were consequently implemented into the construction of the building. Between 1940 and 1944, at the request of mayor Belo Horizonte, Juscelino Kubitschek (1902-1976), Niemeyer designed the Pampulha Architectural Ensemble, which is considered a landmark of his work. It breaks with the strict concepts of functionalism, using a new language of forms, curved surfaces, and explores the possibilities of reinforced concrete. In 1947, he was invited by the United Nations (UN) to participate in the commission of architects in charge of outlining the plans for New York's future headquarters. His plans, conceptualized by Le Corbusier, were chosen as the basis for the final project.
In Rio de Janeiro, in 1955, he founded the magazine Módulo. The President of the Republic, Juscelino Kubitschek, invited Niemeyer to collaborate on Lucio Costa's urban design of the new capital of Brazil, Brasília, the following year. In 1958, he was appointed chief architect of Brasília, where he transferred to and remained until 1960. Some of Niemeyer's more notable projects are Ibirapuera Park, São Paulo, 1951, the headquarters of the French Communist Party, Paris, 1965 Algiers School of Architecture, Algeria, 1968 the headquarters of Editora Mondadori, Milan, Italy, 1968 and the headquarters of the newspaper L'Humanité, Saint-Denis, France, 1987.
Sergio Rodrigues (Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, 1927 - Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, 2014) was a furniture designer and architect. In search of the Brazilian identity, Rodrigues broke away from design constraints and tried to harmoniously integrate the three areas in which we worked; architecture, design, and drawing. He joined the National School of Architecture of the University of Brazil (FNA) in 1947. In 1949, he worked as an assistant professor for David Xavier de Azambuja. In 1951, David Xavier de Azambuja invited Rodrigues to participate in elaborating the Civic Center of Curitiba. The architects Olavo Redig de Campos (1906-1984) and Flávio Regis do Nascimento also collaborated on the project. It was through these contacts that Rodrigues met Lucio Costa (1902-1998).
Rodrigues graduated with an architecture degree in 1951. He moved to Curitiba, where he founded Móveis Artesanal Paranaense, in partnership with the Hauner brothers. In 1954, the Hauner brothers hired him to lead the interior architecture section of the new company, Forma S.A, in São Paulo. During this tenure, he came into contact with other renowned designers such as Gregori Warchavchik (1896-1972) and Lina Bo Bardi (1914-1992).
Sergio's work came at a time of great change for Brazil. Brazil was investing in federal capital, and the Brazilian people were experiencing a cultural awakening in fine arts, music (Bossa Nova), and architecture (the construction of Brasília). Sergio sensed that modern Brazilian architecture lacked contemporary furniture. Sergio's creations, intended to make modern, comfortable furniture suited to the Brazilian tropical climate, availing of wood and leather, soon led him to the new capital where his furniture was ordered on a large scale and taken to Brasília.
Along with essential furniture designers in Brazil, such as Joaquim Tenreiro, and Zanine Caldas, Sergio Rodrigues has played a decisive role in the history of Brazilian furniture. He is the author of various works and always developed furniture consistent with the evolution of architecture during his life.
In 1955, he resigned from Forma, and returned to Rio de Janeiro. Eager to commercialize the production of Brazilian design he opened Oca in 1955. The decades of the 50s and 60s were particularly prolific for Rodrigues. He designed the Mole armchairs, and a variation of the Mole armchair was awarded first at the Concorso Internazionale Del Mobile in1961 in Italy. His design was chosen from a list of 400 designers, and this victory confirmed his international status as a world-class designer. The ISA produced the chair in Italy and exported to several countries under the name Sheriff. It was comfortable and robust and was considered a symbol of national design. Rodrigues intended to design a piece of furniture that expressed national identity. The armchair was associated with a Brazilian way of sitting, inspired by the relaxed and lethargic Brazillian lifestyle. His work is said to have emphasized the relaxation, informality, and rejection of a new lifestyle of the 1960's youth. Many believe that Rodrigues was successful in his endeavour to symbolize the Brazilian identity.
The CD-7, or Lucio Costa chair, was made of solid wood with straw seat and named after the architect, a great promoter of Rodrigues' work. The PL-7Jockey PL-7Jockey, or Oscar Niemeyer armchair, was also constructed with a wooden frame. This chair has braided straw arms carved as unique pieces, with an anatomical design, and constructed through thoughtful consideration of Lucio Costa's work. However, influences from the works of the Danish architect and designer Finn Juhl (1912-1989) can also be seen in the design.
In 1958, Sergio received an invitation to conceptualize pieces of furniture for the, then under construction, national congress building in Brasilia. For the waiting room, he designed the PO-3armchair, which was later named Beto. Beto was composed of a chrome frame, hardwood arms and seat, and a foam backrest. In 1960 he worked on a project with Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012) and built the table Itamaraty for Brasilia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Darcy Ribeiro, then rector of UnB, invited Rodrigues to design the seats of the Candangos Auditorium, a building designed by the architect Alcides da Rocha Miranda (1909-2001). A similar design of his is the armchair created in 1965 for the Auditorium Instituto dos Arquitectos do Brasil (IAB/DF), in Brasília, which gained an honorable mention in the IAB contest that year, and was used in several Brazilian auditoriums, such as the Anhembi and the São Paulo State Research Support Foundation (Fapesp).
Another famous armchair was the Tonico, created in 1963 for Meia-Pataca, with a roll pad for neck support supported by adjustable straps. In 1973 he designed the Lightweight Kilin PL-104 armchair, made of solid wood and canvas or leather for the seat and backrest.
He also promoted the preliminary stages of the first studies of SR2 - System of Industrialization of Prefabricated Modulated Elements for Construction of Housing Architecture of wood. The prototypes of the buildings are exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro (MAM/RJ). The system was successfully used in the construction of the Yacht Club of Brasilia and two lodging pavilions and restaurants of the University of Brasilia (UnB), in 1962, as well hundreds of units being produced and assembled in the Amazon rainforest.
Dedicated to marketing furniture produced in series at affordable prices, in 1963, he founded the company Meia-Pataca, which was active until 1969. In the late 1960s, he sold Oca. He set up his own studio in Rio de Janeiro, where he worked mainly as an interior architect for homes, offices, and hotels and worked on projects for the Central Bank in Brasilia and the headquarters of Editora Bloch in Rio de Janeiro. The innovative designer received the Lapiz de Plata Prize at the Buenos Aires Architecture Biennial for his work in 1987. In 2006, he won 1st place in the furniture category in the 20th edition of the Design award in São Paulo, with his armchair Diz.
In the 1980s, he developed projects for hotels, such as the DAAV chair and the Júlia armchair. In the 1990s, he continued to design furniture, such as the Chico and Adolpho chairs, made for the meeting room of Editora Bloch. Rodrigues remained consistent in his design style throughout his 50-year career.
Upon examination, it is evident that Rodrigues' preferred choice of material was wood, which he often combined with leather or straw and other natural fibers, such as cotton or canvas, and occasionally with metal. Oca, which started as a modest interior architecture studio, is now held in high esteem and is often referred to when discussing the development of modern furniture in Brazil. Oca integrated contemporary design into the new wave of modernization that Brazil experienced in the mid-twentieth century.
José Zanine Caldas (Belmonte, Bahia, 1918 - Vitória, Espírito Santo, 2001) was an architect and designer. Caldas stands in Brazil for his exploration of the constructive qualities of Brazilian woods, defining his work with a warm rustic ambiance, working on both high-end residential projects and famous constructions.
Never actually training as an architect, he started working in the 1940s as a designer at Severo & Villares and as a member of the National Artistic Historical Heritage Service (Sphan). He opens a maquet studio in Rio de Janeiro, where he worked between 1941 and 1948, and, at the suggestion of Oswaldo Bratke (1907-1997), moved the studio to São Paulo, from 1949 to 1955. The studio served important modern architects of the two cities and was responsible for most of the models presented in the book Modern Architecture in Brazil, 1956, by Henrique E. Mindlin (1911-1971).
During the 1940s, he also began developing and researching at the Institute of Technological Research of the University of São Paulo (IPT/USP) and was first introduced to plywood. In 1949, he founded the Fábrica Móveis Artísticos Z, intending to produce large-scale industrialized furniture, good quality and affordable, the furniture was to be materialised using plywood sheets. This method minimised material waste and the need for artisan skills, as the parts were mechanically produced, and the use of labor was only needed for the assembling of the furniture.
His time at Móveis Artísticos Z, in 1953 was relatively short-lived and he left the company in 1953 and instead worked on landscape projects until 1958 in São Paulo, when he moved to Brasília, where he built his first house, also in 1958, and coordinated the construction of others until 1964. Appointed by Rocha Miranda to Darcy Ribeiro (1922-1997), he joined the University of Brasília (UnB) in 1962 and taught modeling classes until 1964, when he lost his position due to the military coup. He set off and traveled through Latin America and Africa, an experience that remarkably affected his work.
On return to Brazil, he built his second house, the first of a series of projects in the Joatinga region of Rio de Janeiro. In 1968, he moved to Nova Viçosa, Bahia, and opened a workshop, which ran up until 1980. His experience in the Bahian city was shaped by his renewed love and contact with nature, and he began working closely with environmentalists. In one of these collaborations, he participated in the project of an environmental reserve with the artist Frans Krajcberg (1921-2017), for whom he also designed a studio in 1971. The furniture he designed during this period is reflective of his ecological sensitivity. His works were constructed with crude wooden logs, whose twisted lines inspire his drawings.
It is also in Nova Viçosa that the architect builds the Casa dos Triângulos (1970) and casa da Beira do Rio (1970), in which he adopted a very artisanal construction system with typical woods of the region. According to the historian and architecture critic Roberto Conduru, Caldas' performance was relevant for the diffusion of environmental values in architectural projects: a "taste for the alternative and the rustic was disseminated throughout the Brazilian territory [...], encouraged by environmental preservation campaigns, by the wear and tear of the current models in reinforced concrete and by the re-emergence of the regionalist ideal in the international panorama "1.
Between 1970 and 1978, he kept an office in Rio de Janeiro, returning in 1982. In 1975, the filmmaker Antonio Carlos da Fontoura made the film Arquitetura de Morar, about the houses of Joatinga, with a soundtrack by Tom Jobim (1927-1993), for whom Caldas designed a house. The architect's work was exhibited two years later at the Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro (MAM/RJ), at the São Paulo Museum of Art Assis Chateaubriand (Maps) in Belo Horizonte, and the following year at Solar do Unhão, in Salvador.
Between 1980 and 1982, The Helium House Olga Jr was designed and built in São Paulo. Caldas outlined the plans for the construction, sourcing all the wood, the actual assembly of the house was carried out by the owner. The house was defined by a wooden structure that stands out from the fence walls, the clay tile roof of wide eaves, and the demolition materials that give the building rusticity, warmth, and nostalgia. The house was similar to those built in the 1970s for Eurico Ficher and Pedro Valente in Joatinga.
In 1983, Calders founded the Center for the Development of Applications of The Woods of Brazil (DAM), and gave it to UnB in 1985. During this period, he proposed the creation of the Escola do Fazer, a teaching center focused on the use of wood for the construction of houses, furniture and utilitarian objects for the low-income population.
Even though much of Calder's early work was centered around building houses for the elite, in the 1980s, the designer dedicates himself to the DAM, where he rigorously researched popular housing based on artisan construction processes and where users participate in the construction process. At the Brasília unit, he developed prototypes of popular houses with eucalyptus logs as a structure and sealing in soil-cement, betting on an ideal of self-construction already tested at Casa do Nilo, in São Gonçalo, Rio de Janeiro. From that moment on, as occurred with his furniture designs, Caldas adopts the use of crude wood logs rolled - and no longer rigged - usually discarded, allied to demolition materials, which radicalize the effect of rusticity and warmth. This method also spread to non-residential projects, such as the Barra das Princesas Agropecuária S. Fazenda Chapel in Araguaia, Mato Grosso, the chapels of Guarapari, Espírito Santo, and Itapissuma, Pernambuco and Pousada Pedra Azul, in Domingos Martins, Espírito Santo.
Calder's success, without a doubt, was thanks to his modeling studio, where his clientele noticed his ability to propose solutions to the design problems he identified during the execution of the models. In 1986, however, the publication of his work in the magazine Projeto n. 90 initiated a controversy in the Regional Council of Engineering and Architecture (Crea) over the fact that Caldas was self-taught. Several architects jumped to his defense, among them Lucio Costa (1902-1998), who awarded him five years later, at the 13th Brazilian Congress of Architecture in São Paulo, with the title of honorary architect given by the Institute of Architects of Brazil (IAB). In 1989, he was reinstated to his post at UnB, but did not teach. That year, he traveled to Europe, where he designed residences in Portugal and taught at the École d ́Architecture in Grenoble, France. The Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris held an exhibition of design pieces in 1989, the same year he received the silver medal from the College of Architects of France.
The integration of industrialism of the 1950s and the ecologism of the 1970s was a considerable challenge to many industrial designers. This was a theme that was very much present in Calder's work. It was this debate that removed the architect from the proposal of serialisation carried out in Moveis Z. It brought him back to craftsmanship and the indigenous language of Brazil, the house of the architect Carlos Frederico Ferreira (1906 - ca.1996) and Casa Hildebrando Accioly de Francisco Bologna (1923), are both examples of Calder's connection with his grounded roots. José Zanine Caldas has left a significant legacy, permeating both serial production and the priority of native manufacturing.