Brazilian design is often lauded for its use of unique materials, embrace of traditional craftsmanship and ecologically-minded take on furniture and architecture. So why would a Brazilian designer give that up? The acclaimed architect/designer Arthur Casas has gone against the norm to craft a completely new line of furniture entirely in America for the first time.
Unveiled today at Espasso, the definitive destination for Brazilian design in New York, ‘Arthur Casas: Made In America’ presents a range of never-before-seen designs by Casas in an immersive installation setting. Completely transforming the Tribeca gallery’s first floor, the exhibition, which was also conceived by Casas, and features audio and video projections interspersed throughout, presents five new pieces that have been made in the USA; Brooklyn, to be specific.
‘We decided to explore North American woods because they are best-suited to the local climate,’ explains Casas, of this decision. ‘The sustainable part of this is very important too. We are using local materials and local craftsmanship.’
The five designs on display include the 'Rectangular' coffee table, made from stained American walnut and blackened steel; a 'Square' coffee table which pairs travertine with blackened steel; a stained American walnut bookcase called 'Fibonacci'; the 'Copacabana' sideboard; and the 'Tiles' coffee table, crafted from limestone tiles and steel.
‘These designs are the evolution of what we always have done. We always continuing [in] the direction we think is right,’ Casas says. ‘There are many different inspirations here – the 'Tiles' table is inspired by a very common technique used in Brazil, while the 'Copacabana' sideboard was inspired by the famous Rio beach and Roberto Burle Marx’s work. The organic shapes are also recurrent to our work.’
While the designs may be considered classically Casas, what will surprise visitors is the multi-sensory quality of the exhibition. Aided by sounds and visuals that mimic the feeling of being in nature (which in turn charcterises the relationship between Casas, his work and his surrounding environment), the exhibition at Espasso even smells like nature.
Casas explains, ‘Being around nature is not only about vision and noise. Nature affects you in almost all of the senses and smell is one big part of it. The fragrance we created with Natura Brasil is supposed to capture the essence of wood when it is wet after the rain fell. Combining audio, sound and smell we tried to mimic the felling of being in nature, while inside Espasso.’