With the World Cup in full swing, it seems like a good opportunity to take a look further in to what makes Brazil, from a design point of view anyway. It’s hard not to notice the exuberance, colour and intensity of this country that emanates through the TV every night, but there is so much more to this country than football, Samba and Copacabana Beach.
Whether you realise it or not, Brazilian design has played such a major role in how, architecture in particular, has been shaped for the past 80 years (at least). The main exponent and patriarch of Brazilian architecture is also one of the key figures credited with the development of modern architecture; Oscar Niemeyer.
Oscar Niemeyer, not only famous for the buildings he designed and contributed towards, is also credited with his town planning achievements; most notably that of Brasília, the federal capital of Brazil. The planning of Brasília was founded on what we more commonly see in emerging countries today, such as Dubai, with the town being ordered into specific, numbered blocks and activities such as the Hotel Sector, Banking Sector and Embassy Sector. The importance of not only the planning layout but the architecture that lies within it (also designed by Niemeyer) was, in 1987, chosen as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, primarily put in place to “defend the protection of a modern, unique and singular city, built in the 20th century from scratch, in the middle of nowhere, to become not just the capital of a country but also a magnificent historical example” (UNESCO, 2007).
Examples of some of Oscar Niemeyer’s influential work can be seen below. (Left to right: The National Congress of Brazil, Cathedral of Brasília, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro).
Niemeyer’s work continues to be a source of inspiration and importance for today’s architects and designers; however Brazil doesn’t rely on ideas of the past to highlight its reputation in the current design industry. One of the current crop of Brazilian designers who is making a name for themselves in the design industry is Fernanda Marques. In 2009, her design for Loft 24-7, located in São Paulo, was a clear reflection of her design prominence. The 2,700 sq.ft bungalow draws on the natural elements of its landscape, with an intense use of daylight and open space that “helps blur the boundary between nature and architecture” (Pinnaclelist, 2011). Marques places her design philosophy in that created by one of the Modernist masters, Mies van der Rohe; a signal that the past masters of Modernism are still continuing to have a significant influence in the contemporary vision that todays’ architects and designers have for Brazil.
Loft 24-7 (above) is a reflection of how current designers are considering the transition point from architecture to the outside environment. With the use of rough stone walls, limestone floors, and a wooden deck that links the projection of the house beyond its internal boundaries, this project is one of spatial continuity and of a desire to be closer to nature; one of Marques’ design hallmarks.
However, we should not just look into the work of architects and interior designers to understand the importance and nature of Brazilian design. Graphics and illustration is of major significance to Brazil; from the graffiti that inhabits the favela towns to that of posters and publications of everyday life.
Rico Lins, born in Rio de Janeiro and current lecturer on the MA Graphic Design course at Istituto Europeo di Design in São Paulo, is regarded as one of the finest illustrators and graphic designers that Brazil has to offer.
Projects include designs for Le Monde, The New York Times, Goethe Institut and the examples (below) featured on the German magazine Kultur Revolution, Lins’ designs “stand out for their thematic versatility, freedom of graphic expression and experimentalism” (Rico Lins, 2010).
So whilst Brazil is at the centre stage and forefront of our minds at this moment in time, the architectural and design heritage of the country will last far beyond the final goal of the World Cup.
Contemporist (2013) Limantos [Online Image]. Available from: http://www.contemporist.com/2013/12/06/limantos-residence-by-fernanda-marques/fe_061213_07/ [Accessed 19/06/14].
Decoist (2012) Niteroi [Online Image]. Availbale from: http://www.decoist.com/2012-12-12/architecture-of-oscar-niemeyer/ [Accessed 20/06/14].
Dezeen (2013) Cathedral of Brasilia [Online Image]. Available from: http://www.dezeen.com/2013/10/24/niemeyers-brasilia-by-andrew-prokos/ [Accessed 20/6/14].
Dezeen (2013) National Congress [Online Image]. Available from: http://www.dezeen.com/2013/10/24/niemeyers-brasilia-by-andrew-prokos/ [Accessed 20/6/14].
MyHouseIdea (2013) Loft 24-7 [Online Image]. Available from: http://www.myhouseidea.com/2013/03/31/loft-24-7-by-fernanda-marques-arquiteto-asociados/ [Accessed 19/06/14].
Pinnaclelist (2011) Loft 24-7 [Online]. Available from: http://www.thepinnaclelist.com/blog/directory/loft-24-7-casa-cor-exhibition-sao-paulo-brazil-photo-gallery/ [Accessed 30.06.14].
Plus Mood (2011) Loft24-7 Outdoor [Online Image]. Available from: http://plusmood.com/2011/05/loft-24-7-fernanda-marques-arquitetos-associados/ [Accessed 19/06/14].
Rico Lins (2014) Kultur Revolution 1-4 [Online Image]. Available from: [Accessed 20/06/14].
Rico Lins (2014) Revista de Jornalismo ESPM [Online Image]. Available from: [Accessed 20/06/14].
UNESCO (2007) Brasilia celebrates 20th anniversary as World Heritage site [Online]. Available from: http://whc.unesco.org/en/news/402 [Accessed 30.06.14].
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