We’re comfortable taking a little bit of the credit for the seemingly insatiable global lust for Brazilian furniture, what with our years of diligent coverage culminating in the recent Born in Brazil issue (W*2010) and its launch party at New York City’s Espasso – a particularly apropos location if we do say so ourselves. But the gallery’s owner, Carlos Junqueira deserves much of the credit for the current Brazilian design craze. Since it’s 2002 launch, Espasso has become the premier source for Brazilian furniture, art and design objects outside of the country, and its owner has become a particularly skilled patron of Brazilian culture, and promoter of his designers along the way.
On September 22, 2010, Espasso launched 'Used and Reused Wood: Furniture by Carlos Motta', a month-long exhibit of the famous designer’s oeuvre, which demonstrates his life-long commitment to sustainability and social responsibility in his work. The highlight of the evening was Motta’s Havaianas chair (see image above), which made its US debut at the show. The piece was commissioned by the Brazilian footwear company Alpargatas, and is made of the same rubber used to make their iconic footwear and certified Freijó wood. Not surprisingly, the chairs are available in a range of vibrant colors.
But the Havaianas chair couldn’t outshine the breadth of Motta’s brilliant work, 38 pieces on display in total, including the striking Butantã bench, the first piece that visitors are presented upon entering the space, made of wax-finished Peroba rosewood secured with oxidized iron brackets that perfectly compliment the rich, luxurious wood. And of course the affable Motta was on hand to personally welcome guests, field questions, opine on the virtues of reclaimed wood and eco-consciousness, and to sign his book, 'Carlos Motta: Life As I See It'.
The show is part of Semana Carlos Motta or Carlos Motta Week, sponsored by Espasso, the New York Consulate General of Brazil, the AIA Center for Architecture, who hosted a discussion on September 21st called 'Reclaiming Nature: Carlos Motta on Sustainability and Brazilian Furniture Design', and Phillips de Pury & Company, who hosted their own discussion on September 24th, 'Collecting Brazil: Carlos Motta on Tropicalism, Sensuality and Furniture', followed by the opening reception for Latin America their auction of contemporary art from the region scheduled for September 29, 2010.
The timing of the series was impeccable. The events bracketed the Brazil Foundation’s 8th Annual Benefit Gala, which brings hundreds of Brazilian celebrities, business leaders and other philanthropists to New York every year to raise money for the non-profit organization, which makes annual discretionary grants in the fields of education, design, health, human rights, and culture. The event has become something of a phenomenon within the Brazilian community in both Brazil and New York City, and of course both Motta and Junqueira were attendees and benefactors. And many of the Foundation’s many prominent figures were present at Motta’s events, which also became social centers of gravity for the Brazilian community and those close to it.