What comes to mind when we think of Brazil? Is it Gisele Bunchden sashaying her way down a catwalk? The appalling crime and poverty of the favelas, as depicted in cult film City of God? The destruction of rainforest? Perhaps it’s the beautiful beaches? Or the carnivals? Or capoeira dancing? Or maybe it’s that rather frightening hair removal process you’ve heard people talking about? One thing that perhaps won’t come to mind is Brazil’s sophisticated clutch of top class furniture designers. But, thanks to the ambitions of Silvia Nayla and her business partner Daniela Martins, this situation is slowly starting to change.
In 2007, the enterprising duo opened a combined shop and interior design service on Notting Hill’s Westbourne Grove, showcasing the work of Brazil’s most iconic designers, including Hugo França, Sergio Rodrigues and Pedro Petry, alongside designs from Brazil’s most vulnerable communities. I had opportunity to learn more last week when I went along to the shop to interview Silvia and Daniela for The Good Web Guide. Shamefully, it was my first introduction to these designers, but I left feeling inspired. In a refreshing move away from the high gloss, sleek, synthetic look of so much popular Italianate contemporary design, Brazilian design, it seems, really speaks from the heart. Whether that’s in a França chair, magnificently crafted from a fallen tree, the sustainable wood rich with a darkly hued grain; or in a framed flower, created from fish scales by an inmate in a tough Brazilian jail – this is design with character and poignancy.
At Silvia Nayla, there are works that sit proudly in New York’s Musuem of Modern Art or sell at Sotheby’s for thousands of pounds next to more simple designs, priced under £20 and created by those living in favelas. But each design tells a uniquely Brazilian story. This might be one of environmental concern at a time when the destruction of Brazilian rainforest continues; one of a growing impetus amongst artisans living on the bread line to formulate their designs into a finished and marketable product; or one of an oft underestimated Brazil that is growing in wealth and which has the capacity to produce sophisticated, world class design. I, for one, am hooked.
To read The Good Web Guide’s full interview with Silvia Nayla and Daniela Martins, click here.
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