It's a collaboration made in heaven: Sergio Rodrigues, the legendary furniture designer from Rio de Janeiro, and Espasso, the dynamic retailer specialising in furnishings and accessories from Brazil. Of course owner Carlos Junqueira has been carrying Rodrigues' pieces for years, along with those from virtually every other seminal Brazilian designer. But now, Espasso has dedicated the entire lower level of their Tribeca space to a Rodrigues shop-in-shop.
The decision to join forces comes from more than just the shared heritage between Rodrigues and Junqueira, or Espasso's status as the go-to retailer of Brazilian design outside of the country. Rodrigues calls it 'the perfect partnership, because [owner Carlos Junqueira] has created a space with Brazilian spirit. Not just a place where you can spend money buying this and that, but a more personal place where friends come together over common interests.'
This description of Junqueira's Espasso invites comparison to Rodrigues' own original space in Rio's leafy neighbourhood of Ipanema. It was an experiment he called Oca - one part boutique, one part studio, one part art gallery. A risky and unproven model at the time, it became a successful operation and a centre of gravity for the intelligentsia during the turbulent decades of dictatorship.
Today, Espasso is a similar channel for the Brazilian art and design community in New York, as well as a wider group of local enthusiasts, friends and industry professionals. Past happenings at the gallery include private musical showcases featuring the likes of Seu Jorge and events for
Brazil Foundation - a favourite charity of Junqueira's. It also played host to the launch of our W*135 Born in Brazil issue in June 2010. But it is the bi-monthly Terssas series that delivers a steady stream of inspired cultural events, everything from Brazilian film premieres to panel discussions with high-profile personalities - always held on Tuesdays, the name being a clever play on the Portuguese word for the weekday and the gallery's name.
The official launch of the Sergio Rodrigues shop-in-shop is Espasso's latest fete, and it's no surprise that the octogenarian architect - known for his trademark handlebar moustache, flat cap and a walking cane made of his favourite Jacaranda wood - was a big hit. His visits to New York have become fewer and farther between, so there was a particular sense of excitement over his attendance.
Rodrigues' personal charm comes across in the new space. Original sketches (the most prominent portrays a portly Rodrigues napping in his famous Poltrona Mole chair and ottoman) and decades-old photos decorate the walls, warming up a space that still feels almost museum-like, particularly for the breadth of work it houses, and the pieces' significance in the world of design. Here, both original antiques and current production models of the many Rodrigues classics are on hand, and to mark the space's launch, a new line of re-editions previously only available in Brazil are also on offer - naturally exclusive to Espasso, in both their New York and Los Angeles galleries.