AD Magazine, France - mai 2010
Pages: 100 and 102

THE EMERGENT MARKET OF BRAZILIAN DESIGN

“Little known in Europe, the Brazilian vintage furniture has much to offer. With excellent manufacture, signed by great names, it will have a bright future in a market looking new classics.”


By Cédric Morisset

Born at the same time of the modern architecture movement, the Brazilian design wrote beautiful pages since the 40´s. Far from the important centers in Europe, with its tubular furniture, and, after that, the United States in the 50´s, the Brazilian design was developed in an independent and original way, but not without influences.

First created to attend the demand of great names as Lucio Costa or Oscar Niemeyer to furnish their new buildings, the furniture gradually began to find its place inside the new interiors of a country in full age of gold.

Generally, the birth of Brazilian design is marked by the creation of the “Light Armchair”, developed in 1942 by Joaquin Tenreiro, a trained cabinet-maker who became one of the biggest names of Brazilian design, although there are beautiful pieces attributed to him witch are from previous periods.

Rediscovered after decades of forgetfulness, the Brazilian vintage started to have its space in a market that develops gradually.

Tropical essences and Scandinavian inspiration
“The Brazilian design is distinguished for the characteristic use of exotic woods, especially rosewood”, explains Graça Bueno, owner of “Passado Composto Século XX”, the most beautiful gallery of vintage design in São Paulo. The rosewood, present in the Brazilian vintage furniture par excellence, is protected nowadays by environmental laws and is a good reference to identify the period of the furniture.

Much inspired by the lines of the Scandinavian furniture in vogue in the 50´s, the Brazilian vintage differs for the use of wood that is very peculiar. The slightness of the pieces by Joaquin Tenreiro, which anticipated the flexibility of lines and the practicality of the furniture, contrasts with the robustness of the creations by Sergio Rodrigues, result of the search for comfort and inspiration found on the native roots of Brazil.

Colonial references are also found sometimes, here or there, in pieces made of woven cane, which are very “Portuguese”.

Which pieces should you buy?
“Is necessary, before, to ask for orientation and to give attention”, explains Carlos Junqueira, of Espasso gallery, in New York, a specialist who is advisor to houses of auctions as Phillips de Pury, “for some pieces are reedited and also there are many copies. Sometimes is difficult to realize the differences between a new furniture and a vintage one”.

As first investment, the gallerist advises the purchase of great classics of the Brazilian design, and, more particularly, the pieces by Joaquin Tenreiro, whose creations are the most expensive of the market. The most looked for are the “Poltrona Leve” (“Light Armchair”), made in two versions: clear, in ivory wood, and dark, in walnut, upholstered with a capitonée fabric, printed by the artist Fayga Ostrower (it costs from €10.000 to € 20,000 depending on the model), and, also, the “Cadeira de Três Pés (“Three Legged Chair”), made on different Brazilian wood blades, which provides a refined chromatic game.

In the opinion of Graça Bueno, pieces by Sergio Rodrigues, as the (*)“Poltrona Mole” (“Mole armchair”), are a “must” more affordable. But the most looked for pieces are the ones created by Oscar Niemeyer, all over abroad, declare the gallerist. The speculation around these pieces has already started, as well as around the pieces created by Jose Zanine. The architect, born in 1919, constructed more than 300 houses made on wood, (he used only the ones which had been already knocked down with the disordered exploration in the Atlantic Forest that occurred at that time). He was also an exceptional and important designer. At the time of the auction “Latin America” in Phillips de Pury, in October of 2009, one of his tables was evaluated in U$50.000 (€36.800).

An unexplored sea
Beyond these important names, there are a great number of Brazilian designers, whose work already awakes the interest of many collectors. Between them we can exemplify, Lucio Costa, Giuseppe Scapinelli, Ricardo Fasanello, Jean Gillon and Jorge Zalszupin, whose pieces and works start to be well quoted in the market. “The interest grew gradually, especially in France, Italy and Belgium”, explains Carlos Junqueira. The Gallery Pierre Bergé & Associés of Brussels invested too in the experience of mixing the past, using the vintage furniture, and contemporary pieces, inspired by Brazilian designers, in an exposition-sale baptized under the name “Brazil influence meets Brazil style”.

The Brazilian vintage shelters nowadays a “sea” very little explored abroad. “The vintage pieces are not totally sold in the auctions“ and “it´s very difficult to remove the pieces from Brazil”, according to the owner of Espasso gallery. The market, therefore, has difficulties to open and expand, which, for consequence, keeps the prices relatively raised, “even when these pieces are not so hard to find”. However, as in all emergent markets, there are good chances for business. ◙


Notes
A chair by Joaquin Tenreiro is negotiated around €3.000, a dinning table for €50.000 and a sofa for €22.000. Produced in less than 10 units, the “Cadeira de Três Pés” (three legged chair) was sold by U$54.000 (€39.317) in New York in 2004, and, two years later, for U$250.000 (€181.991) according to an article published by the Art+Auction magazine.

A pair of “Oscar” chairs made in rosewood, a creation by Sergio Rodrigues, one of most beautiful by the designer, is negotiated around €15.000. The (*)“Poltrona Mole” (“Mole armchair”), which is equally very representative of his work, costs around €7.000. A pair of “Kilin” armchairs was sold by €1.000 in the Pierre Bergé & Associes in 2009.

The celebrated “poltrona Jangada” (“Jangada Armchair”), created by Jean Gillon, which can be found in the Fasano hotel in Rio de Janeiro, costs around €20.000 and €25.000.

A sofa of 3 seats, by Jorge Zalszupin, was evaluated past year, in the Pierre Bergé & Associés, in € 3.000

(*) The “Poltrona Mole” (“Mole Armchair”) is better known abroad by a variation of this model, created by Sergio Rodrigues to the international market, named “Sheriff Armchair”.

Where to buy Brazilian Vintage Furniture

• In New York: in Phillips de Pury & Company, 450 West 15 Street, tel. 001 212 940 1260. www.phillipsdepury.com
In Espasso Gallery, 38, N. Moore Street, tel 001 212 219 0017 www.espasso.com

• In São Paulo: in the gallery Passado Composto Século XX, at Al. Lorena, 1996 - Jardins, tel 0055 11 3088 9128. www.passadocomposto.com.br

• In Brussels: in Pierre Bergé & Associes, place du Grand-Sablon, 40 tel 0032 2 504 8030. www.pba-auctions.com

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