Bo selecta: Nilufar Gallery celebrates the twists and turns of an icon of Brazilian modernism
Nina Yashar, the founder of Milan’s Nilufar Gallery, first fell for Lina Bo Bardi five years ago. She was visiting São Paulo and the photographer Ruy Teixeira took her on a tour of several of the architect’s seminal projects, including the Museo di Arte de São Paulo (MASP), Casa de Vidro (the architect’s home), SESC Pompeia, and the Espírito Santo do Cerrado church in Uberlândia.
It was the beginning of an obsession with the Rome-born Bo Bardi, who, after studying architecture at the University of Rome, opened a studio in Milan’s via Gesù in 1940 and collaborated with Gio Ponti on Stile magazine before moving to Brazil with her husband Pietro Maria Bardi in 1946.
In São Paulo, Bo Bardi worked alongside her husband, as well as fellow Italians Valeria Piacentini Cirell and Giancarlo Palanti at the newly established Studio d’Arte Palma. It was with the lesser known Palanti that Bo Bardi took up furniture design. Unable to find the kind of manufacturing facilities available in Italy, they opened a small furniture factory named Pau Brà, where their pieces were produced in local wood.
Yashar acquired her first Bo Bardi piece three years ago. Since then, she has amassed another 21 pieces by Bo Bardi, 13 by Palanti, three by Bo Bardi and Palanti, and four other designs produced by Pau Brà. Yashar will put the haul on show at her Nilufar Depot space during this year’s Salone, alongside four key pieces on loan from Casa de Vidro, today the base of the Instituto Bardi which has worked with Yashar in putting the show together. The exhibition includes two versions of a chair designed for MASP, a desk and rocking chair from Casa de Vidro, and three stools from the Espírito Santo do Cerrado church.
According to Yashar, the work of Bo Bardi and Palanti laid the foundations for modern Brazilian design. ‘They brought a different point of view, but at the same time, they let themselves be infected by what they found in Brazil, especially Bo Bardi, who was fascinated by the local vernacular culture.’ Palanti was older than Bo Bardi and ‘you can see in his pieces that he grew up in a rationalist Milan culture’, she argues. Bo Bardi, she says, ‘had a freer approach, and together they produced truly unique work’.
This is the first show dedicated to the furniture of Bo Bardi and Palanti. Yashar has managed to acquire an example of almost all of Bo Bardi’s furniture designs, and she considers this the most important show of her four-decade career as a gallerist. ‘This represents the peak of collecting,’ she argues, ‘the cutting edge.’
As originally featured in the May 2018 issue of Wallpaper* (W*230)