5 -min. read

Contemporary design is arguably one of Brazil’s most vibrant creative industries today. Progressive talent finds inspiration in a plethora of cultures and by using digital technology or artisanal craftsmanship; repurposed objects or redeemed cultural heritage; memories; and even sounds and pollution. Throughout, three shapers craft diverse projects in all different scales of design, from jewelry to tableware, furniture and hotel façades: hacking, repairing and delighting.

Design by HACKING: Guto Requena Estudio

Guto Requena

Guto Requena’s experimental use of digital technologies is at the core of all his projects. His characteristically millennial passion for hybrids, interactivity, and overlaying digital and analogue with good storytelling, has carved his unparalleled space in the Brazilian design scene.

WZ Hotel façade and Lightcreature [Photos: Ayla and André Hibri]
When the faded 1970s WZ Hotel finally decided it needed a facelift, Guto designed the façade – its best attribute, even after the retrofit. By doing what he calls ‘hacking the city’ – using digital technologies to collect and use its different nuances – he mapped the hotel’s surrounding soundscape and came up with the distribution pattern for the panels that clad the building. By night, it’s infused with interactive coloured lights that react in real time to external stimuli such as noise, which makes them move, and pollution, which denotes cooler tones for good air quality and hotter ones on smoggier days. There’s also an app that allows passersby to interact with the lights and temporarily intervene in the façade.

Nóize Chair

São Paulo sounds also shaped his Nóize Chair, created by using recorded audio to distort the digital rendering of the Giraffe chair (a celebrated Brazilian modern design piece.) The resulting file for the new chair was sent to a 3D digital printer in Belgium that poured out the new and unusual physical piece.

Glass vases and Aura pendants [Latter photo: Luciana Dal Ri]
The most intimate of Requena’s hacks gave shape to rippled glass vases made from recordings of his grandmother recounting his favourite childhood stories and his most recent project, the Aura pendant. In the latter, people tell a (love) story via an app that captures their heartbeat and tone of voice patterns. These nuanced variables shape digital files that craft unique gold pendants delivered to one’s doorstep as bespoke tokens of affection <3.

Design by REPAIRING: Paulo Goldstein

Paulo Goldstein

Inspired by mistakes, broken objects and unusual findings, Paulo Goldstein’s work is a celebration of artisanal repair and repurposing, and an ode to creating silver linings from what may seem glum. Led to design when he lost his job in stop-motion animation during the 2008 financial crisis (he worked on Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox and Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie), he developed a methodology based on his interest in broken systems to repair objects.

Namoradeira Palito

At first glance it looks like Goldstein’s pieces live exclusively in the ‘sustainable or upcycled design’ realm; however, they’re conceptual pieces resulting primarily from his reflections on the environments (and societies) that reject and neglect imperfections, but that continue to abide by broken, complex organizing systems. His Magrela Chair combines the back of a Thonet chair with bicycle parts, and the Day Armchair brings together all sorts of loose ends and the seat of a Polo chair, designed by Robin Day. His most recent piece, Namoradeira Palito, a two-person loveseat, harmoniously unites the opposites of glass and wood, curves and angles, warmth and coolness, to form an unexpected piece of furniture.

Design by DELIGHTING: Jahara Studio

Brunno Jahara

Brunno Jahara’s versatility is noteworthy. He moves between working in very different materials and sources of inspiration easily, always seeking to delight and improve daily routines by offering creative solutions to everyday objects that dialogue with cultural heritage.

Examples from the Batucada series

Anodized aluminium light fixtures, vases and trays in an array of bright colours speak to Brazil’s musical culture in the Batucada series. The Portuguese word that names the collection means ‘percussion beats’, and draws on the fact that people in Brazil, in the light of scarcity but also as a result of their passion for improvisation, play music and stamp their rhythms on all sorts of mundane objects. This is a collection that also speaks to recycling – 98% of Brazilian aluminium is recycled and collected from the garbage by NGOs.

Jahara’s interest in sustainability filters through his repurposing of materials in the Multiplastic Domestica collection, a series of fruit bowls and lighting fixtures made from upcycled colourful plastic packaging, drinking bottles and washbasins. Aside from alluring, they raise awareness about the tons of debris we produce and the scope of colours we can encounter daily and not pay much attention to.

From top: Conterraneous, Transatlantica and Tuju collections

Turning towards more natural materials and sober tones, Jahara created the Conterraneos collection, made from clay and opal glass, which taps into Brazilians’ collective memory of traditional and simple, everyday objects built to last. More refined, the collection of tableware Transatlantica in blue, white and gold is inspired by Brazil’s history as a colony and made in partnership with the traditional 1820s Portuguese porcelain factory, Vista Alegre. One of his most recent and delicately crafted collections, shown at last year’s Wallpaper* magazine exhibition Handmade in Milan, was made in partnership with Chef Ivan Ralstrom and Riva factory. This set of ‘food tools’ were made to harvest and serve food and celebrate the art of eating well – from farm to table.


Camila Belchior
Camila Belchior is a freelance writer and former Innovation Director and Editor at Bamboo Magazine. Her specialities are culture, art, design, architecture and travel, and her work has been published in Bamboo, ArtForum, Frieze, Flamingo Lens, Wallpaper*, Time Out and Travel+Leisure, among others.

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