Scandinavia, of course, gets most of the attention when it comes to mid-century furniture. But in Brazil in the mid-1940s and '50s, even more wondrous things were happening. Led by architect Oscar Niemeyer and his countrymen Sérgio Rodrigues and José Zanine Caldas, the design revolution here was characterized by sculptural forms and the use of indigenous materials such as pequi (a South American wood traditionally used to make canoes) and jacaranda (Brazilian rosewood).
Today, modern Brazilian furniture design builds upon these tenets, and Zanini de Zanine (the son of José Zanine Caldas) is leading the charge. Since finishing his degree in industrial design in Rio in 2002, the 36-year-old has built an enviable portfolio, working on both carefully crafted limited-edition pieces in reclaimed wood as well as industrially made products for high-end manufacturers such as Cappellini. We caught up with him during a brief visit to the U.K., where he was showing four of his extraordinary designs at the Espasso during the London Design Festival, and he explained the background of some of his favorite pieces.