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Brazil's midcentury contemporary furniture

Brazil's midcentury contemporary furniture gets a make over

Brazil's modernist architecture might be better understood, but the country's distinctive midcentury contemporary furniture is getting brand-new worldwide interest.

Sensual curves, tropical woods, woven leathers, and standard techniques such as caning and netting were all part of a style that developed from the 1940s to the 1970s called Brazil Modern.

" When everything comes together, it's like the music of Gilberto Gil," stated Juliet Kinchin, curator of contemporary design in the department of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which recently acquired four chairs by Brazilian furniture designer Lina Bo Bardi.

Piece by piece, midcentury contemporary works from Latin America are getting exposure in museums and galleries across the United States.

" Brazil is one of the last - if not the last - terrific discoveries of 20th century design," says collector Zesty Meyers, who composed the introduction to "Brazil Modern" (Monacelli Press), a massive new study by design manager and author Aric Chen.

Brazilian author and design teacher Maria Cecilia Loschiavo dos Santa spoke with many of the stars of Brazilian furniture design personally, wrote a book on furniture of the age, and co-curated "Moderno: Design for Living in Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela, 1940-1978," an exhibit at the Americas Society in New York last year.

" Interest (in the design) has actually been developing for 10 years or two in the United States, but now individuals are truly talking about it," she said, spoken with by phone at her home in Brazil.

A current transition, she stated, was the convergence of in 2014's "Moderno" program with an exhibition on Latin American metropolitan design at the Museum of Modern Art.

Packed with more than 400 pictures and sketches, the book "Brazil Modern" brings the era to life with a comprehensive history of Brazil during the post-war years of breakneck financial development. It presents titans of Brazilian design like Italian immigrant Bo Bardi (one of the couple of women designers of the period), Oscar Niemeyer, Joaquim Tenreiro and Sergio Rodriguez.

The very same immigrant wave that brought post-Bauhaus designers and architects to the United States, ushering in aspects like floor-to-ceiling windows, family rooms and open-flow houses, also brought post-Bauhaus architects and designers to Brazil.

" People consider Brazil as this distant land," Meyers stated. "But the waves of immigration were practically the same as the ones that came here."

In Brazil, this generation of designers became part of a nationwide melting pot simply as the nation was emerging from colonialism and establishing a national spirit called "brasilidade," or Brazilianness, Meyers said.

The Brazilian design mission was for "authentic modernism," integrating shiny indigenous materials and conventional local craftsmanship with European references and Bauhaus geometries to form an aesthetic all its own. The concept got a boost from 2 early sees by the Swiss-French midcentury modern-day architect Le Corbusier. And a groundbreaking 1940 MoMA exhibition on "Organic Design in Home Furnishings" included a Latin American area.

However, because the pieces were not made in great deals and were normally made to order for personal homes, not business settings, they weren't readily available or noticeable outside Brazil. Today, they appear to have gotten brand-new relevance.

"One of the qualities of Brazilian design that really appeals to the modern audience is its accept of the modern, while continuing to be deeply rooted in a profound relationship with natural landscapes, resources and the traditions of Brazil," Kinchin stated.

An eye-popping 1947 chair by Joaquim Tenreiro is crafted from four really various kinds of Brazilian wood, and features a bonded laminated frame and three elegantly tapered wooden legs.

"Tenreiro's work has a genuine lightness and feel to it. The wood itself enters into the decoration of the furniture," said Sarah Coffin, manager and head of product design and ornamental arts at the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York. That museum acquired a chair and stool by Tenreiro in 2004, not long after midcentury modern furniture from Brazil began to appear on the market.

Lina Bo Bardi, also included in the book, is most well-known perhaps for her 1951 Bowl Chair. Included on the 1951 cover of "Interiors" magazine in the United States, it was an upholstered half-sphere nesting in a circular metal frame with 4 legs, and came in a rainbow of colors.