Sergio Rodrigues (Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, 1927 - Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, 2014) was a furniture designer and architect who broke away from paradigms to invent his own language in search of the Brazilian identity and harmoniously integrated the three areas in which he 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 assistant professor for David Xavier de Azambuja, who, in 1951, invited him to participate in the elaboration of the project of the Civic Center of Curitiba, with the architects Olavo Redig de Campos (1906-1984) and Flávio Regis do Nascimento, through who he met, Lucio Costa (1902-1998). Rodrigues graduated in architecture in 1951. He moved to Curitiba, where he founded Móveis Artesanal Paranaense, in partnership with the Hauner brothers, who in 1954 hired him to lead the interior architecture section of the new company, Forma S.A, in São Paulo. It was during this tenure that he came into contact with other renowned designers such as Gregori Warchavchik (1896-1972) and Lina Bo Bardi (1914-1992).
Sergio’s creations came at a time when Brazil was investing in a new federal capital, and the Brazilian people were breathing an atmosphere of invention and of Brazilianness in fine arts, music - with Bossa Nova - and architecture, with 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, making use of wood and leather, soon led him to the new capital where his furniture was ordered on a large scale and taken to Brasília. Parallel with important 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 a vast spectrum of work 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 armchairs Mole, Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer. A variation of the Mole armchair was awarded the first prize at the Concorso Internazionale Del Mobile in1961 in Italy. His design was chosen from a list of 400 designers, and the victory confirmed his international status as a world class designer. The chair was then produced in Italy by the ISA and exported to several countries under the name Sheriff. It was comfortable and robust and was considered a symbol of national design. The desire to conceive a furniture that expressed national identity was expressed by Rodrigues himself and emphasized by several scholars, who associate the armchair with a Brazilian way of sitting, with ideas such as laziness and relaxation, and emphasize the harmony of Rodrigues' furniture with the relaxation, informality and contestation of a new lifestyle of the youth of the 1960s; many have interpreted his work as an exemplar of Brazilian singularity
The CD-7 or Lucio Costa chair, was made of solid wood with straw seat and named after the architect, who was a great promoter of Rodrigues' work. The PL-7Jockey PL-7Jockey or Oscar Niemeyer armchair, was also constructed with a wooden frame and braided straw arms carved as unique pieces, with an anatomical design, and constructed through thoughtful consideration of Lucio Costa’s work, although similarities with works of the Danish architect and designer Finn Juhl (1912-1989) can also be seen.
In 1958 Sergio received an invitation to conceptualize pieces of furniture for the national congress building in Brasilia, then under construction. For the waiting room, he designed the PO-3armchair, which was later named Beto, and 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 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brasilia.
At the invitation of Darcy Ribeiro, then rector of UnB, he created in 1962 the seats of the Candangos auditorium, designed by 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 the company Meia-Pataca, with a roll pad for a 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 restaurant 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, and set up his own studio in Rio de Janeiro, where he worked mainly as an interior architect for homes, offices and hotels as well as working 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. The irreverence that marks his projects he maintains throughout the 50-year span of his uninterrupted career.
After the examination of his vast production of furniture it is obvious 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 of great significance when discussing the development of modern furniture in Brazil. It contributed to the acceptance of contemporary design in the market stimulated by the new wave of modernization experienced in the national architecture of Brazil in the mid-twentieth century.
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