Joaquim Tenreiro, Brazil, circa 1947
A feat of craftsmanship in wood, this three-legged chair by Joaquim Tenreiro bears the hallmarks of his modernist approach to form, and strict principles of material selection that employed only the highest quality of Brazilian hardwoods. The model was constructed in variants with two, three, four, and five kinds of wood. Tenreiro built the present example with the most difficult technical level by using five different species. This incredible technique required in-depth knowledge of craftsmanship as well as an intimacy with the way different woods behave under varying environmental and technical circumstances....
Cadeira de Três Pés (Three-legged chair) made with five different types of hard wood, bonded laminated frame with solid lathed joints and legs.
Sergio Rodrigues, Brazil, 1978
The Mesa Parker dining suite commission was designed in 1978 by Sergio Rodrigues for the Parker family in Rio de Janeiro. The meticulous construction in woodworking is demonstrated to a substantial degree in the complex interlocking elements that comprise the underside support of the table. Rodrigues’s thoughtful attention to detail in the design additionally shows how the beauty of the object can be seen not only in the construction, material, and finish but also in its effect as a compelling focal point of everyday life. Tellingly, the Mesa Parker commission remained one of Rodrigues’s favorite designs throughout his prolific career....
"Mesa Parker" dining table in solid pine with brasss detailing, and set of ten chairs in solid pine and cane. Custom commission for a home in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Oscar Niemeyer, Brazil, 2007
Oscar Niemeyer designed this chaise alongside his daughter, Anna Maria Niemeyer, in 1978. The piece references the curves he often created to structure his architectural designs as well as the natural landscape of his hometown, Rio de Janeiro. The chaise also pays homage to colonial chaises known as “marquesas” (marchionesses), which used cane seating and featured arched ends. This design was produced in Brazil from December 2007 to December 2008 only, in honor of Oscar Niemeyer’s 100th birthday....
"Marquesa" bench in red with cane seat and bent wood detailing at each end.
Designed in 1978.
Joaquim Tenreiro, Brazil, 1950s
While Joaquim Tenreiro had some furniture lines, most of his work revolved around creating bespoke pieces for private commissions. This bookshelf was one such case, when Tenreiro designed a complete interior environment for a family in Rio de Janeiro. Unlike other mid-century shelves made for the market, this piece highlights the artistic possibilities of creating something unique: from the choice of materials and the exquisite craftsmanship visible in the feet and lateral details, to the perfectly finished backing, no inch of this shelf was made without his careful supervision....
Bookshelf in caviona wood.
Designed for a private commission in the Flamengo neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro.
Sergio Rodrigues, Brazil, 1961
Sergio Rodrigues came up with the design for the Sheriff Chair after his friend, photographer Otto Stupakoff, asked for a couch where he could rest and feel “like a sultan.” The seat’s sturdiness opposes the toothpick feet that characterized design at that point, while the relaxing posture anticipates the casual attitudes of the 1960s. In 1961, Rodrigues submitted the design with small modifications to the international furniture competition of Cantu, Italy, under the name of Sheriff, and won first prize in the wood category. The jury considered the Sheriff to be “the only model with current characteristics, despite the conventional treatment of the frame, uninfluenced by fads and absolutely representative of its region of origin.” This example was specially handmade circa 1999 for the cover of the monograph “Sergio Rodrigues,” edited by Soraia Cals (2000)....
"Poltrona Sheriff" lounge chair with solid wood frame and light brown leather upholstery. This example handmade circa 1999 for Soraia Cals and featured on the cover of the monograph "Sergio Rodrigues," edited by Soraia Cals (2000).
Martin Eisler, Brazil, 1950s
Viennese-born Martin Eisler arrived in Brazil in 1952 after living some years in Argentina, and soon became a partner in Carlo Hauner’s design company, Forma. Inspired by the geometry of car fenders turned upside down, Eisler created the Reversivel (reversible) Chair in 1955. The name denotes not only the inspiration, but the chair’s ingeniousness: it allows the user to sit upright when the seat is set as a smile, or it can be moved to a side grin that enables one to recline parallel to the backrest....
Lounge chair with dark purple upholstery and iron frame.
Jose Zanine Caldas, Brazil, 1963-7
From the 1960s onwards, Jose Zanine Caldas incorporated scraps from deforestation to create what he called “Protest Furniture.” For his iconic masterwork, the “Namoradeira,” or “Tete-a-Tete,” Zanine uses a large section of a felled tree to translate the nineteenth-century French form into the twentieth-century Brazilian design lexicon. Though Zanine carved the “dating chair” from a massive log, the rounded base allows the users to rock back and forth, reinforcing the light, social function of the piece....
"Namoradeira" tête-à-tête lounge chair. Designed and made by José Zanine Caldas, Brazil, circa 1963-67.
Martin Eisler, Brazil, 1950s
Martin Eisler designed this exquisite dining table for Forma in the 1950s. His inspirations for the piece reflect how the architect and designer managed to merge European and Brazilian references to create something unique. The sleek wood structure reflects both a mastery of craftsmanship and international design trends. At the same time, the cane top was inspired by vernacular cane ceiling linings seen in Latin-American rural architecture....
Dining table in caviona wood with cane and glass top. First produced in Argentina, then Brazil, by Forma.
José Zanine Caldas, Brazil, 1980s
Jose Zanine Caldas created this bench for a home in Brasilia in the 1980s. This piece reflects the most sophisticated and mature phase of the designer’s career, as he developed a language that embraced the heftiness of Brazilian hardwoods but also created unique geometries. Zanine strongly believed in the idea of know-how and respecting tradition: the tusk tenon joint that unites the seat and the sides of the bench not only serves a decorative purpose but is one of the most reliable joints in carpentry, with its use dating back over 7,000 years....
Hand-carved bench designed by José Zanine Caldas for Mrs. Maria Da Conceição Vianna Collor, Brazil. Manufactured by Zanine's workshops c. early 1980s.
Joaquim Tenreiro, Brazil, circa 1958
Six-sided table with yellow underpainted glass top, ebonized rosewood frame and black iron legs. (Original glass is white, new glass is yellow)....
This unusual table was created by Joaquim Tenreiro for a Rio apartment in 1958. The designer made few of these, and each had a unique geometry. Tenreiro furnished houses designed by Oscar Niemeyer, Lucio Costa, Sérgio Bernardes, Francisco Bolonha, and others, which put him in direct dialogue with these modern architects and complemented what MoMA called "some of the finest modern architecture not only in this Hemisphere but in the world."
Joaquim Tenreiro, Brazil, 1948
Joaquim Tenreiro started creating modern furniture in 1942 and founded his own business in the following year. Initially, both modern and revival-style furniture were offered, the latter by his partner’s demand. Unsurprisingly, all modern pieces were sold before the traditional furniture, and so the company started only exhibiting Tenreiro’s new designs. This chair nonetheless sheds light upon the designer’s knowledge of traditional works, as it creates a direct dialogue with the Windsor chair, whose early examples date as far back as the sixteenth century. In this regard, the chair is an inflection point between Tenreiro’s past and future production....
Side chair in pau marfim (ivory wood) with undulating armrests. Designed by Joaquim Tenreiro, Brazil, 1948.