R & Company is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of Brazilian modern designer Sergio Rodrigues, opening at the gallery on March 7. This is Rodrigues’ third solo show with R & Company and the first exhibition since his death in 2014. This exhibition presents a curated overview of some of his most significant furniture to date and unveils a selection of unique custom pieces that highlight Rodrigues’ extensive career, which spanned over sixty years.
Sergio Rodrigues first started experimenting with furniture in the early 1950’s and his career quickly grew as he became identified as one of the pioneers of the modern architecture and design movement in Brazil. “Sergio Rodrigues represents the heart of Brazil. He never changed his own style or identity and remained always ahead of the curve for design” states Zesty Meyers, co-founder of R & Company. Rodrigues stood out from his contemporaries by developing a signature style that reflected the nature of Brazil by combining elegant design with comfort.
The exhibition surveys some of Rodrigues’ most innovative handmade works that demonstrate his extraordinary use of indigenous materials. Aric Chen, author of Brazil Modern: The Rediscovery of Twentieth-Century Brazilian Furniture, states, “Rodrigues presented an image of design that reflected Brazil’s natural abundance and laid-back lifestyle. In Rodrigues’ hands, modernism lost its stiffness, softened by a humanistic impulse and generosity of materials.” Rodrigues sourced all of his materials locally in Brazil and often worked with specific woods like jacaranda, imbuia, and peroba. His extensive knowledge of craft and woodworking carried through each design and resulted in polished and modern shapes. Often many of his pieces combined these hardwoods with soft woven leathers, which juxtaposed sleek design and relaxation.
The exhibition highlights a selection of seating, tables and dressers from the 1950s-1990s. On view is Rodrigues’ classic “Tonico” armchair, which in 1992 was featured in an exposition at MAM, the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro, and in 2015 on the cover of Brazil Modern: The Rediscovery of Twentieth-Century Brazilian Furniture, co-published by R & Company and The Monacelli Press. The “Tonico” armchair, made in 1963, is one of his most striking works to date and holds its original upholstery and cushion. Also on view is a set of Rodrigues’ bold “Cuiabá” chairs from 1985 made in caviona wood and designed with his signature circle-cut out motif, which Rodrigues states was inspired by airplane windows. The exhibition also presents the elegant “Milhazes Game Table", composed of a hardwood cylindrical base and a felt surface hidden with eight drawers that pull out around the circular top.
Over recent years as the interest of Brazilian modern design has become internationally widespread, Sergio Rodrigues is celebrated as one of the key figures of this movement and as a leader in forging the path for this growing market. This exhibition is timed over a decade after his first major retrospective at the gallery, Sultan in the Studio: Sergio Rodrigues, which introduce his work globally. Since then, Rodrigues is considered not only a maser of Brazilian design but also an influence on European design. This exhibition aims to bring light to Rodrigues’ career since his death in 2014 and to showcase his significant custom works that continue to be a source of inspiration.