Aspire Archetypes: 5 Brazilian Designers On How Their Heritage Influences Their Work

Introducing a consortium of five divergent Brazilian designers whose original works are united by a common theme: their innate ‘Brazilness.’ It’s an approach that synthesizes the country’s natural beauty and the artisans’ natural creativity in unexpected forms which are firmly rooted in modern design. Collectively, they represent some of today’s most prolific and interesting contemporary designers.

André Poli

Gwen: There’s a sensuality to Brazilian design, whether it’s in the curvature of an armrest or detailed carving of a chair leg. Can you speak to the popularity of this design detail that is so prevalent in Brazil?
André: Brazil is a country that shows its sensuality in a very explicit way, from our weather, amazing bodies on the beach, music, rhythm, colors, seasons…everything is about sensuality.


Gwen: What inspired the design of your Equilibrium Stool?
André: The Equilibrium Stool, as its name implies, is a piece that is constantly searching for balance/equilibrium. My inspiration came from a debate between art and design and a proposal of a new path for it.

Built from the stresses of its own shapes, the Equilibrium Stool creates a visual effect that is both solid and unstable. The print based on the fractal design of the leaves of a palm tree also contributes to the concept of the piece.

Gwen: Which designers from the past and present do you feel were groundbreaking?
André: From the past, I like Charles and Ray Eames because of the path they opened for new designers. Today I’m a huge fan of Frank Gehry; I love his architectural projects and I also like that he designed amazing furniture such as the experimental chair Carumba.


Ricardo Bello Dias

Gwen: What are some of the ingenious concepts that Brazilian designers are using today?
Ricardo: I believe that the use of sustainable materials and production techniques has grown in Brazilian design, as well as greater attention to ergonomics and functionality.

Gwen: Who is your favorite Brazilian furniture designer?
Ricardo: Brazilian architect and designer Patricia Anastassiadis is a favorite, I admire the elegance and delicacy in the design of her furniture, with details of classic and cultured forms.

Jelly is an elaborate set of modular seats and tables that create a collaborative environment in complete harmony. Playful and rounded shapes complement each other in a unique design language.

Gwen: Have any American designers influenced your work?
Ricardo: Two designers I admire are Charles and Ray Eames, for their creation of furniture that was creative, innovative, elegant and at the same time simple, influencing our industrial design today and always. I agree with the idea that “The role of the designer is comparable to that of a kind and attentive host who knows how to foresee the needs of his guests,” a quote that’s attributed to Charles Eames.


Wagner Archela

Gwen: Joyful bursts of color are a mainstay in Brazilian design; does the use of vibrant colors reflect Brazil’s cultural and artistic communities?
Wagner: Color is nature’s most important survival tool; it draws attention to food, resting places and warns of danger. Color is light-dependent, so maybe for this reason Brazilian design is characterized by the use of colors. We live in a region that is fully bathed in light most of the year, everything is more colorful… insects, birds, flowers and fruit. The appropriation of color by the senses is indeed a community phenomenon because it is not restricted to design or just the arts. In a way it influences all aspects of life, even in speaking and reacting to life’s problems. Brazilian design objects have part of their conception linked to this feeling that is both personal and collective.

Lisboa refers to the famous tiles from Lisbon, Portugal which are blue monochromatic. The design conception of the Lisboa table is in the monochromatic color work, but not so much … the tonal nuance of blue composes, just like in the Brazilian “One Note Samba”, the movement of the color scale through design.

Gwen: Who do you most admire in the design world and why?
Wagner: I admire Vladimir Kagan mainly for the projects in organically carved wood, they are true pieces of art that influenced the furniture industry of the 20th century tremendously. Kagan had an alternative trait to German modernism, a style that almost glimpsed an idyllic future for design objects.


Sérgio J. Matos

Gwen: What is your favorite Brazilian furniture design and why does it appeal to you?
Sérgio: Banco Kansai by Ronald Sasson. The piece is beautiful, intriguing and haute couture of the industry. It is made of brass and leather but inspired by woven fiber baskets.

Gwen: Which American designer do you greatly admire and why?
Sérgio: I really like Victor J. Papanek’s ideal of believing in social, ecologically sustainable design and products that are not just industrial.

The art and crafts of the tannery imbue the concept of the “Poltrona Arreio” with regional identity. The belts designed to tie the saddle to the horse’s body and mined at the open market in Campina Grande in Paraíba gain evidence as a raw material.


Guto Indio da Costa

Gwen: What is your favorite Brazilian design and why does it appeal to you?
Guto: I’d choose my Machina & Manus chaise lounge for its sensual flowing shape, a true sculpture on which you can comfortably lay.

Gwen: Is there one designer who has inspired you throughout your career?
Guto: My choice is Hartmut Esslinger. Although he was originally born in Germany, we could say he’s got a very American soul since he has lived and worked in the U.S. for such a long time. He is a designer who has influenced a whole generation with the concept “Form Follows Emotion,” going against the previous idea of “Form Follows Function.” Esslinger is the founder of Frog Design, and is a true design legend.

The Ava chair was inspired by the side view of a flower; the Ava backrest and seat are beautifully curved surfaces which freely emerge from the same origin, as petals usually do.

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