ASPIRE Interview with Raiz Project

What elements of Brazilian design have you seen catching on in the United States?
The perception is very strong in relation to modern, organic, functional, intelligent furniture. Wood still shines. The wood from medium to dark still draws more attention at first. And it is what is most seen in the physical and online stores. But bright colored lacquers are also getting attention in the United States.

How is sustainability incorporated into Brazil design?
Sustainable practices are considered a necessary condition for the performance of designers and the Brazilian furniture industry. Respect for and environment protection, together with actions aiming the prosperity of the communities where they are inserted, are essential to the business. It is also possible to highlight some recurring practices, such as wood certification and waste treatment. Sustainability and the quest to permeate design in social projects are part of the expertise of Brazilian designers. High-end pieces blend sustainable materials like recycled aluminum, reforestation wood, fibers and natural dyes, raw materials with low impact on the environment. In the social area, several campaigns promote the integration of craftsmanship in these professionals’ creative processes, highlighting the Brazilian identity in each piece, promoting NGO’s and associations that value several regional profiles.

What are some ways that people can integrate sustainable style into their homes?
There is a trend to living in smaller spaces and consideration of the functionality of furnishings and decorative items. This means that useless decorative items will be passed over for designed items that also serve a function.

What are you most excited to showcase at ICFF 2018 in New York?
The United States is the largest economy and the largest consumer market for furniture in the world. Besides being the largest market and with great business potential, it is also one of the most demanding and competitive markets, which demands greater preparation and investment to carry out international business. Besides of these well-known economic, social and cultural importance, New York has also one of most interesting design weeks and a wonderful design environment and culture. ICFF comprises around 700 exhibitors and they are expecting over 30 thousand professionals and are one of the most important shows of the sector worldwide. All of these factors indicate great opportunities to the Brazilian designers.

What has been the biggest change or trend shift in Brazilian design in the last 10 years?
A continuation of the trends toward modern and contemporary furniture designs with cheerful or calming colors such as blues, greens and pinks. Luxury materials combined with solid wood such as copper, brass and marble are also very popular. There is an increasing interest in combining solid wood with steel and metals. There is still a trend to modern design made of natural and sustainable materials.

What defines Brazilian design? What makes it special in comparison to the design styles seen in other countries?
Our design varies a lot. The name Raiz, that denominates the project, sought to explain exactly this characteristic of the Brazilian design, of not having only one characteristic, but several, that come from the multiple roots. Sustainability and the quest to permeate design in social projects are part of the expertise of Brazilian designers. High-end pieces blend sustainable materials like recycled aluminum, reforestation wood, fibers and natural dyes, raw materials with low impact on the environment. In the social area, several campaigns promote the integration of craftsmanship in these professionals’ creative processes, highlighting the Brazilian identity in each piece, promoting NGO’s and associations that value several regional profiles.

How did the Raiz project get its start? What impact has it had both domestically and internationally?
The Brazilian culture is internationally renowned and is leaving a mark on the main design circuits of the world. This is Sindmóveis Bento Gonçalves and Apex-Brasil’s perception, who, through Raiz Project, encourage business generation for designer studios with enough maturity to operate in the international market and who might be interested in in the North American market for the time being. Based on actions aimed at gaining the international market, Raiz Project intensifies the sector’s positioning strategies in the foreign market, enhances the use of networking and commercial intelligence reports for designers, promotes more benchmarking amongst companies, advises on more promotions and allows furniture designers to enter priority markets with all necessary support and duly segmented according to their level of internationalization. Raiz Project was conceived in 2012, as a branch of Orchestra Brasil Project (created in 2006), a partnership between Sindmóveis and Apex-Brasil, aimed at the internationalization of the supply chain of the Brazilian furniture industry. In 2012, they included design as a new segment and in 2014 came the new name Raiz Project, as a result of the Design Challenge, an initiative developed during their last year with the studios, where the objective was to provide experience to create products originated from a North American team. The new brand conveys the combination of cultures nourishing national creativity. Sindmóveis Bento Gonçalves has been investing and betting on design as a competitive differential in the furniture sector since 1988, by carrying out the Salão Desing Award and Movelsul Brasil, the largest furniture show in Latin America.

What are the “roots” of Brazilian design?
The Brazilian furniture represents this mix of Brazilian materials and diversity, relying on a strong history that involves sophistication and maturity of Brazilian design, with original and significant products, whose sensitivity derives from classic and European roots and all its cultural influence, passing through the cultural heritage which also comes from the early Indian people mainly from the regions of the north and northeast of Brazil. Brazilians work with a wide range of materials and processes, as well as a myriad of styles and aesthetic identities which translate their national cultural wealth.

What impact have Sindmoveis and Apex-Brasil had on the Raiz Project?
The Raiz Project to promote the internationalization of Brazilian designers, and was created and are supported by the Association of Furniture Industries of Bento Gonçalves (Sindmóveis) and by the Brazilian Agency for the Promotion of Exports and Investments (Apex-Brasil). Raiz Project was conceived by Sindmóveis and Apex-Brasil, institutions that aim at encouraging the country’s furniture designers’ participation and strengthening abroad through customized strategic actions The project’s mission is to raise awareness about the entire Brazilian wood and furniture production chain abroad and position it with more value added, through the promotion of the designer.

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