Brazilian Modernism Rediscovered
There has been a resurgance in late 60s and early 70s earthy, groovy Brazilian Modernism, seemingly fueled by sites like 1stdibs.com and chairish.com. The chunky hardwood frames and exaggerated upholstery that are hallmarks of the style have struck a nerve in the design community. Roman & Williams, the interior design firm responsible for the eclectic style of the Ace Hotel have incorporated pieces from the Brazilian modern style in their recent book. Although these chairs and sofas might remind us of the less-refined bulbous late 70s and early 80s furniture they inspired, you can’t help but be at least intrigued by the playful use of exotic Brazilian woods and draped, leather wrapped cushions.
There is function behind this fun and unorthodox take on the Danish Modern tradition of using a hardwood frame & leather strapping: these pieces were shipped flat-packed to North America and Europe, and the simple construction made them easy to reassemble.
The two most notable (and collectible) designers are Sergio Rodrigues and Percival Lafer.
Sergio Rodrigues worked for six decades, beginning in the 1950s Brazilian postwar boom, he designed much of the furniture for the new capital, Brasilia. Out of these efforts came his first breakout design, the Mole Chair. You can directly link the design to both the earlier modern work like Eames and the Danish Modernists to the late 60s and early 70s work he inspired. It could be at home in Studio 54 or the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen. Sadly, Rodrigues passed away in 2014, just as his work was being rediscovered and celebrated.
Percival Lafer set out to become an architect, however just as he was graduating, his father passed away and he (along with his brothers) took over his father’s furniture making business. Lafer began to experiment at the workshop, and used his architectural schooling to come up with his groundbreaking designs. Once established, he expanded the manufacturing center in order to produce the MP Lafer car, loosely based on a modified Volkswagen Beetle, and inspired by classic British sports cars—which was a bit of a left turn … Lafer still makes furniture today, although his current offerings are far less funky. Here’s hoping he responds to the newfound interest and returns to his roots!