What makes Brazilian design so unique

What makes Brazilian design so unique

cover picture: Ala das Baianas da Portela, photo Widger Frota

It is a challenge to talk about Brazilian design and assign its identity to the image of a single object.
It was necessary to choose a picture, from a popular festival, to be able to express this language through a series of complementary elements representative of Brazilian cultural heritage.

Brazil is a country of continental proportions, with pronounced regional differences in terms of biodiversity, society, economy and industrialization. Consequently, the multiple interpretations of the meaning of function and beauty, along with the distinct manufacturing processes, result in a heterogeneous production of design.

The multiplicity of these results is above all, a representation of Brazilian culture, along with the mixture of different materials, techniques and languages.

Among some examples, one can cite Joaquim Tenreiro’s chairs that combined different types of wood to accentuate the variety of colors and the abundance of Brazilian flora; or Oscar Niemeyer’s architecture that imported the purity of the simple form from the Modernism, but rounded its angles, believing that the curve is the best way to express Brazilian sensuality. Futhermore, one can speak of the ability that popular culture has to improvise amid precariousness, reusing materials and objects, a characteristic so well translated in the creations of the Campanas brothers. Moreover, we cannot forget all popular knowledge linked to craftwork, or even the expression of indigenous art.

It is interesting to emphasize that concepts such as erudite and popular culture, between industry and craftwork, between the use of virgin materials or their reuse, are combined in different proportions. Principles that are so valued today, such as manual labor, recycling or creative economy, were always present in the Brazilian way of producing design.

If not as an aesthetic language or a precise technique, how is it therefore possible to define the identity of Brazilian design?

The identity of Brazilian design resides in the Brazilian being: in its manner to accept differences; to honor its exuberant nature; its festive way of living; its popular inventiveness and ability to improvise; its freedom to experiment, to use colors and mixtures. Brazilian design is the fruit of this originality that celebrates diversity as its greatest heritage.

written by Bianca Guimarães Motta and Sandra de Borthole Braga