Hardwood hero: a father of Brazilian modernist design is remembered in NY

Hardwood hero: a father of Brazilian modernist design is remembered in NY

When Brazilian modernist designer Sérgio Rodrigues passed away in 2014, he left behind a legacy. Affectionately called ‘the father of Brazilian furniture’, Rodrigues was considered a pioneer of the modern architecture and design movement, responsible for helping to shape and draw attention to a Brazilian identity in the field. This month, he is being honoured with a solo exhibition of work at R & Company in New York.

Presenting a curated overview of some of Rodrigues’ most notable furniture, the exhibition also showcases a selection of unique custom pieces from the designer’s extensive career, spanning over 60 years.

Installation view at R & Company in New York

Among many things, Rodrigues was known for sourcing all his material locally. Using indigenous hardwoods such as jacaranda, imbuia and peroba, the designer would pair them with soft woven leathers, creating a sharp contrast to the polished wood.

Emblematic of that practice is Rodrigues’ classic ’Tonico’ armchair, created for Meia Pateca in 1963, which features thick jacaranda wood slabs and dowels complemented by leather cushions. The chair graced the cover of Brazil Modern: The Rediscovery of Twentieth-Century Brazilian Furniture and was featured in an exposition at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro. That armchair, along with Rodrigues’ ’Cuiabá’ chairs – made in 1988 and which feature his his signature circle-cut out motif inspired by airplane windows – will both be on display.

The exhibition marks the designer’s third solo show with the gallery, and the first since his death. After opening earlier this month, the exhibition will continue until 13 April.

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