The brilliance of Brazilian furniture
Brazilian furniture makes its move
The biggest problem with Brazilian furniture is getting it out of Brazil. “The logistics, the imports, the customs. Some of the pieces are big, some of the pieces are heavy,” says Carlos Junqueira, whose company Espasso has been solving these problems since 2002, with showrooms first in New York and Los Angeles, then London and Miami.
The second is the climate difference. “The furniture is wood and made for Brazilian houses. Wood is a natural, live organism. In New York, they don’t have fresh air [in the showroom]. In the winter, there’s heating. In the summer, air conditioning.”
The final challenge is, or at least was, educational. “There is a big histor y of Brazilian design that was not being well presented outside Brazil, actually not even in Brazil,” Junqueira says. “So I started bringing the designers over and introducing the American market to them. And a couple of years ago, the European market.”
As for the climate problem… “We learned to explain to clients that the furniture is going to crack because it’s a solid piece of wood. That is the beauty of the piece!”
Brazil is hot on the design radar right now. In addition to São Paulo hosting two annual design fairs, this year Unesco named Rio de Janeiro the first World Capital of Architecture. Espasso debuted at the Milan Furniture Fair, the biggest event in the design calendar, presenting work by 15 of its designers, a tight edit from the early 20th century to today. It included vintage pieces by Oscar Niemeyer, re-editions by Sergio Rodrigues and new work by contemporary names such as Cláudia Moreira Salles.
Brazilian furniture may be characterised by organic shapes, its artisanal feel, and, yes, wood: robust local lumbers like jacaranda, peroba and imbuia, something that increasingly slots into our rich, globalised interiors aesthetic. Business is growing.
“Yes, the business is growing. But the problems also,” says Junqueira. “You know the feeling, no? When it’s growing it’s not, ‘Oh my god, it’s growing!’ It’s more responsibility, it’s more supervision of people...”
Mo’ money mo’ problems? “That’s the big deal: the money’s not there yet, but the problems continue growing.” Don’t doubt Espasso will continue to solve them.