Geraldo de Barros

Geraldo de Barros, De la série “Fotoforma.”, Gare de São Paulo Ed. 13/15, 1950/2014, Silver Gelatin Print, 12 x 15 3/4 in. (30.5 x 40 cm.)

Brazilians Alternate Exuberance and Minimalism at Milan Design Week

The idea is to present a different Brazil than one expects so that it is possible to make another reading of Brazilian design.
April 12, 2019

By Xiu Ying, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Work created by Brazilians and shown at the Design Week of Milan show two sides of Brazil: one of vibrant, tropical colors and the other sober and minimalistic.


The exhibition “Brazil: Essentially Diverse,” at the Museo della Permanente, features the work of Paulo Alves, Leandro Garcia, Claudia Issa, and Noemi Saga, and other designers. In the 2,000 square meter space, furniture, nets, and headdresses compete for the visitor’s attention.

“I wanted to show the roots of our material culture, with the influences we had from Indians, Europeans, and Africans, and bring this to contemporary production,” said curator Joice Joppert. “To show the soul of Brazil through raw materials.”

Another exuberant exhibition room is an immersive experience in the Amazon featuring synthetic grass, videos, and sounds.

And at the Palazzo Serbelloni, visitors get another taste of tropicalism with the Campana brothers’ new Bulbo armchair, a part of the collection “Objetos Nômades” for Louis Vuitton. The yellow piece is surrounded by banana trees leaves and dramatic lighting.

The other side of Brazil

At Dpot, which occupies a shed of the Ventura Centrale project, the atmosphere is different. In a show titled “Poetic Geometry,” black and white dominate.

“The main idea is to pay tribute to Geraldo de Barros [1923-1998]. His thinking as a forerunner of the concrete movement, abstract photography, and furniture design is very current, especially in the context of celebrating the 100 years of the Bauhaus,” says curator Baba Vacaro.

At one of the rooms, visitors can watch a video with images from Geraldo de Barros’ Fotoformas series, and read poetry by founder of the Brazilian Concrete poetry movement Augusto de Campos.

“Our idea is to present a different Brazil from the one that people expect, one that goes beyond the tropical exuberance, so that another reading of Brazilian design is possible,” says Vacaro. “I hear people saying that Geraldo’s design reminds us a little of the German design of the 1950s, and I say yes, but this is Brazilian design in the 1950s.”

In the installation “Good News From Brazil”, by Sollos/Jader Almeida at the Palazzo Litta, a large space is occupied by white curtains, soft lighting, and furniture of simple traces, with a lot of black, contrasting with the characteristics of the building erected between centuries 17 and 18.

The Milan Design Week is the most comprehensive design fair in the world.

“We always try to set up exciting installations, not only with products but with our interpretation of contemporary living,” says the designer, who has participated in the Milan Design Week for six years.

In the Salão do Móvel, the central event of the week, Brazil is also divided between tropicalism and minimalism. The only Brazilian in pavilion 20, and the most coveted by brands and visitors, the company A Lot Of Brazil offers colorful design inspired by Fernando de Noronha.

Nearby, in Pavilion 18, Ornare makes its debut with kitchens and cabinets from the “West End” collection, signed by Ricardo Bello Dias, with predominantly neutral colors, straight lines, and discreet scenography.