Brazilian Modernism: Furniture design in Brazil

What are the characteristics of modern design
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November 8, 2019
Furniture design in Brazil

Some features are striking when we look at the Brazilian furniture produced between the 1930s and 1970s. In addition to its evident constructive and material quality, different furniture coexist from different authors, elements that point to a common identity.

For a convergence of procedures regarding the design and possible use of certain raw materials, especially wood, which eventually gave rise to the Brazilian modernist mobile denomination. Despite the international proposal of modernism, the furniture produced in Brazil in the period denotes unprecedented patterns of conception and execution. It is not surprising, therefore, that they have fixed themselves so strongly in the collective memory.

Brazilian furniture design through the time

Specialized production of modern Brazilian furniture spread throughout the 50s, as modern architecture consolidated, in a process that would culminate in the construction of Brasilia.

Design gained much more space in the Latin American countries during the 90s and 2000s. Also influenced by the internet and the evolution of technology, the aesthetic value is today in all objects, even electronic devices and appliances, which have combined functionality with visual aspect.

Mass reproduction of artist-signed pieces has become a feature of today’s design. The modern design is one of the most democratic. Fits all types of environment, it’s great for the little ones, but works perfectly in larger spaces where it can shows all its strength.

The simple but efficient Brazilian furniture

A fundamental part of the characteristics of modern Brazilian furniture design is its simplicity and efficient design. Therefore, since its first traits, they are thought to consider its environmental impact and long-term durability, avoiding its rapid obsolescence.

Brazilian furniture uses wood as the primary raw material for the realization of its language, both at the functional, technical and constructive level, as well as at the formal and symbolic level. This condition apparently derives from the diversity of species existing in its wide territory and the remarkable presence of wood in Brazil’s daily life, reporting to its colonial heritage.

This situation leads us to understand this as a tradition, established in the workmanship and craft production, involving the objects for daily use, the furniture and the residence itself.
The development of this fact can be verified in a Brazilian furniture design culture, which was constituted during a long time of affirmation and recognition of the modern Brazilian movement, in architecture and urbanism and in furniture.

The variety and environmental concern of Brazilian furniture

Modern style is also a return to the basics and therefore values the use of everyday or natural materials, avoiding overly elaborate components. The shinning stars are traditional wood, glass, leather, cement, natural fibers, untreated woods, and especially metals, which are widely used in modernist decor, from chandeliers to furniture. The use of unusual materials such as water hoses, springs and even stuffed animals are also explored in the creaitve composition of many pieces of Brazilian furniture.

But it´s not all about creativity using such things – many Brazilian designers are aware that the creation of their furniture must follow one of the main agendas of today: the concern for sustainability and the environment. Over the years, the industry has turned its eyes to independent Brazilian designers and helps spreading that this kind of art must go hand in hand with environmental awareness. The authorial work combined with the knowledge of communities and artisans who master ancient techniques is a great manner of creating contemporary pieces that identify the Brazilian furniture as one of the most attractive and innovative in the world today.

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