Modernist Designers Series / Giuseppe Scapinelli

Our featured designer for this month has a unique style that you can identify in all of his pieces. Though his life wasn’t widely documented, his designs played a large part in the Modernist movement in Brazil.

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Giuseppe Scapinelli (1891-1982)
Italy, Brazil
Furniture Designer

Scapinelli was born in Modena, studied architecture in Florence, and then eventually moved to São Paulo, where he opened the design studio that would launch his career, Atelier Scapinelli.

Like Brazilian designer Sergio Rodrigues, Scapinelli not only embraced the typical woods of the region — jacaranda, imbuia, rosewood — but his modern designs also suggest influences of Brazilian culture.

Unlike the linear nature of many other modern designers’ work, Scapinelli’s are comprised of gentle curves, tapered edges, and more organic forms.

The resulting pieces have a character unique to him — when you see his work, you recognize it.

Brazilian Caviuna Coffee Table, 1950s  (   source   )

Brazilian Caviuna Coffee Table, 1950s (source)

High Back Chairs, 1950s  (   source   )

High Back Chairs, 1950s (source)

In the 1950s and early 1960s, Scapinelli and his architect brother, Francesco, worked together to design furniture and furnish Brazilian homes. Though the two brothers’ careers eventually diverged, Scapinelli is said to have continued his creative work up until his death in 1982.

More Modern Designs by Giuseppe Scapinelli

Brazilian Chair in Caviuna, 1950s  (   source   )

Brazilian Chair in Caviuna, 1950s (source)

Sculptural Wood Table, 1960s  (   source   )

Sculptural Wood Table, 1960s (source)

Coffee Table, 1950  (   source   )

Coffee Table, 1950 (source)

Armchair, 1950s  (   source   )

Armchair, 1950s (source)

Floor Lamp in Rosewood, Marble, Brass and Crystal, 1950s  (   source   )

Floor Lamp in Rosewood, Marble, Brass and Crystal, 1950s (source)

High Back Chair in Caviuna, 1950s  (   source   )

High Back Chair in Caviuna, 1950s (source)

Bar Cart in Jacaranda, 1960s  (   source   )

Bar Cart in Jacaranda, 1960s (source)

Keep an eye out for our next featured designer in September…

In the meantime, who’s your favorite modern designer so far?

Sustainability + Interiors / Textile Production

For the second installment of our Sustainability + Interiors series, we’re covering textile production. Textiles are used everywhere in interiors - from chairs and sofas to rugs, napkins, and drapery. We also wear them on our skin everyday, but what exactly goes into textile production?

Cotton production can be just as bad as synthetic fiber production    (image source)

Cotton production can be just as bad as synthetic fiber production (image source)

The textile production industry is one of the most complex, chemically intensive, and polluting industries on earth. It’s responsible for an estimated 20% of the pollution of our rivers and lands. Chemicals are used to extract petroleum, which is made into synthetic fibers such as nylon, acrylic, and polyester. Chemicals are also used to transform natural fibers along every step of the manufacturing process: fibers are washed, sized, desized, bleached, dyed, treated with detergents, optical brighteners, biocides, wetting agents, lubricants, stabilizers, emulsifiers, and more…

Chemicals are used throughout the traditional textile manufacturing process    (image source)

Chemicals are used throughout the traditional textile manufacturing process (image source)

Not only do the chemicals often escape into the water or air during the manufacturing process, they are also absorbed by our bodies through the air or skin. Some of the chemicals often used in textile processing and found in the finished product include leads, phthalates, formaldehyde, and perfluorocarbons or PFC’s. There are published studies linking chemicals found in textiles to human health issues such as infertility, autoimmune diseases, cancers, asthma, and others.

Then there is the waste - every year, more than 15 million tons of textile waste is produced in the United States alone. Of this amount, 2.62 million tons were recycled, 3.14 million tons were combusted for energy recovery, and 10.46 million tons were sent to the landfill. Yet nearly 100% of textiles and clothing are recyclable.

Guaranteeing Sustainable Textiles

If minimizing chemicals is a priority for you, then there’s a couple third party certifications that can provide assurance as to the sustainability of the fabric. 

  • Oeko-Tex

    • Oeko-Tex has a range of certifications that cover harmful substances and/or sustainable and socially responsible conditions. 

    • Both the MADE IN GREEN and STANDARD 100 labels prohibit a lengthy list of chemicals which are known or suspected to harm health, and fabrics are required to have a skin friendly pH. (A non-skin friendly pH can cause stresses that leave you vulnerable to bacteria, moisture loss, and irritation.)

    • Only the MADE IN GREEN label addresses anything related to sustainable and socially responsible conditions.

  • Global Organic Textile Standard

    • GOTS certification ensures organic status of textiles from harvesting of the raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing up to labelling. 

    • It requires 95% of fibers be certified organic, no harmful chemicals during any stage of the textile production process, and various criteria for processing and manufacturing, and labor management.

Guaranteeing Sustainability in Textiles
Guaranteeing Healthy Textiles

To get you started, here’s a few of our favorite companies that provide Oeko-Tex and GOTS certified textiles:

  • Parachute - all bedding, bath, and tabletop products are Oeko-Tex certified

  • Snowe - all textiles are Oeko-Tex certified

  • Two Sisters Ecotextiles - all fabrics are either GOTS are Oeko-Tex certified

For our next post, we’ll be discussing the waste problem with textiles and what some companies are doing about it. Coming next month!

References:
https://www.nrdc.org/issues/encourage-textile-manufacturers-reduce-pollution
https://www.thebalancesmb.com/textile-recycling-facts-and-figures-2878122
https://www.twosistersecotextiles.com/pages/so-what-chemicals-are-used-in-textile-processing-that-are-supposed-to-be-so-bad-for-us
https://www.twosistersecotextiles.com/pages/why-do-you-say-your-fabrics-are-safe-what-do-you-mean-by-safe

Modernist Designers Series / Sam Maloof

This month’s designer hails from our very own state of California. Meet the man behind some of the most defining wood craftsmanship of the mid-century.

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Sam Maloof (1916-2009)
United States
Designer, Craftsman

Sam Maloof was born in Chino, California with a natural talent for woodworking.

Following his service in the army during World War II, Maloof earned a position at a local college art department, where he began designing and crafting furniture. When his creations appeared in Better Homes & Gardens magazine and the LA Times, the custom orders came flooding in and never stopped.

Of the designs he created during this time, Maloof was best known for his rocking chairs, some of which even appeared in the White House for use by Presidents Reagan and Carter.

Walnut rocking chair, 1977  (   source   )

Walnut rocking chair, 1977 (source)

Though his work continued to develop throughout the Crafts movement, you can see an undeniable modern influence on his style — the simplicity of form, the focus on function, and the way he brought out the beauty of natural materials.

Rosewood Rocking Chair, 1963  (   source   )

Rosewood Rocking Chair, 1963 (source)

In 1953, Maloof began building and furnishing his own home with his wife, Alfreda. In 2000, a freeway extension project (the 210) required he move their Alta Loma home, which was later recognized as a historic property.

Music Stand and Chair from the Maloof House, 1969 and 1972  (   source   )

Music Stand and Chair from the Maloof House, 1969 and 1972 (source)

He relocated to the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, where anyone can tour the 22-room estate today, complete with his own handcrafted spiral staircase.

More Modern Designs by Sam Maloof

Loveseat in Maple, 1992  (   source   )

Loveseat in Maple, 1992 (source)

Leather Lounge Chair and Ottoman, 1960s  (   source   )

Leather Lounge Chair and Ottoman, 1960s (source)

Hornback Chairs in Walnut, 1960s  (   source   )

Hornback Chairs in Walnut, 1960s (source)

Coffee table in Ash, 1954  (   source   )

Coffee table in Ash, 1954 (source)

Free Standing Cradle in Walnut, 1977  (   source   )

Free Standing Cradle in Walnut, 1977 (source)

Keep an eye out for our next featured designer in September…

In the meantime, who are your favorite modern designers so far?

Sustainability + Interiors Series / Introduction

We’re excited to kick off a new series on sustainability and what it means for interiors! In our first installment, read on for thoughts on how to consider sustainability for yourself.

Armadillo & Co’s rugs are made by hand from natural or sustainable materials using Fair Trade practices (  source  )

Armadillo & Co’s rugs are made by hand from natural or sustainable materials using Fair Trade practices (source)

I had always thought of myself as environmentally-conscious with my parent-instilled habits of religiously recycling and only buying new things when the old things could no longer be used. I even wrote a paper in college analyzing LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards and criticizing the loopholes in how they evaluated sustainability. But if I really dig into my life, there is so much unsustainability that escapes notice on a daily basis. Our beloved iPhones, for example, do we really want to know the conditions in which those rare earth metals are mined? (We don’t.)

Sustainable, green, eco-friendly - these are all words we hear often, but what do they really mean? Depending on who you ask and the context, there can be many different answers. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states, “To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations.” 

Whether or not you care deeply about the global environment, your immediate environment most certainly has an effect on your well-being. As many people have unfortunately experienced at one point or another, paint and carpet fumes most definitely cause headaches. According to the Sustainable Furnishings Council, our indoor environments are two to five times more polluted than our outdoor environment because of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) off-gassing from the furnishings that we bring into our homes. Not to mention, the textile production industry is one of the most chemically intensive in the world, and we are surrounded by textiles on our bodies and environments. 

Inside Cisco Home’s furniture workshop, a company known for their use of Forest Council Certified wood, natural materials, and lack of chemical fire retardants. (  source  )

Inside Cisco Home’s furniture workshop, a company known for their use of Forest Council Certified wood, natural materials, and lack of chemical fire retardants. (source)

So how do we evaluate products and companies for sustainability? Here are four main areas that are helpful in evaluating:

  • Transparent Sourcing

    • Can you trace back the origin of the materials used?

    • Is the material provider producing within ethical and sustainable guidelines?

  • Ethical Manufacturing

    • Are the working conditions safe?

    • Are labor practices non-exploitive?

  • Low-Impact Production

    • Are the negative by-products of production minimal?

    • Are harmful chemicals being used in the product?

  • Upcycled Materials

    • If plastic is being used, is it recycled?

    • Is the wood reclaimed?

It is absolutely difficult, if not impossible, to be 100% sustainable in all areas currently. Our goal in discussing sustainability is not to be perfect, nor to judge or criticize, but to present information so that you can make informed decisions on your interiors based on what is most important to you. Trade-offs are often necessary in design when there are budgets and schedules to consider. However, it’s becoming increasingly easier to make sustainable decisions for your spaces, and we seek to educate and highlight those alternatives in this new monthly series. 

Stay tuned for our next post on textiles. In the meantime, what topic most interests you in sustainability and interiors? Share with us in the comments below.

Modernist Designers Series / Sergio Rodrigues

Our featured designer for June brought new levels of comfort and relaxation to modern design. He was also one of the first to spread the Modernist movement to South America. Meet the father of modern Brazilian furniture...

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Sergio Rodrigues (1927-2014)
Brazil
Architect, Designer

Sergio Rodrigues’s modern designs epitomize the relaxed lifestyle of his native Brazil.

After studying architecture and design in Rio de Janeiro, Rodrigues introduced Brazil to modern design, opening its first modern art and furniture store. Two years later, he founded a firm called Oca to design modern furniture himself.

Rodrigues’s work embraced robust woods — like jacaranda, rosewood, and imbuia — and he often used leather. Together, these rich materials would create many uniquely modern designs, all of which boast an undeniably suave style.

In 1957, he developed his infamous Mole chair. “Mole” means “soft” in Portuguese, and this chair is also known as the “Sheriff Chair” abroad. This design won him first prize in Italy’s International Furniture Competition in 1961 and was immortalized in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection in 1974.

Mole armchair in jacaranda and leather, 1957  (   source   )

Mole armchair in jacaranda and leather, 1957 (source)

Mole sofa in jacaranda and leather, 1957  (   source   )

Mole sofa in jacaranda and leather, 1957 (source)

Rodrigues also worked closely with Oscar Niemeyer to style the interiors of Niemeyer’s buildings in Brasília. Rodrigues named a chair design “Oscar” after him.

Oscar chair in jacaranda and cane, 1960s  (   source   )

Oscar chair in jacaranda and cane, 1960s (source)

Rodrigues stayed with Oca for 13 years and continued to design into his later years. He churned out more than 1200 designs in his long career, and it’s said that all of them stayed true to the relaxed and playful nature of his people.

In other words, he is more than the first to bring modern design to Brazil. He was also the first to bring Brazilian comfort to modern design!

More Modern Designs by Sergio Rodrigues

Diz chair in imbuia wood, 2002  (   source   )

Diz chair in imbuia wood, 2002 (source)

Kilin chair for his firm, Oca Industries, in Brazilian pine and leather, 1973  (   source   )

Kilin chair for his firm, Oca Industries, in Brazilian pine and leather, 1973 (source)

Tonico chair in jacaranda and leather, 1950  (   source   )

Tonico chair in jacaranda and leather, 1950 (source)

Benjamin lounge armchair in freijó wood, 2013  (   source   )

Benjamin lounge armchair in freijó wood, 2013 (source)

Cuiaba chair in freijó wood, 1985  (   source   )

Cuiaba chair in freijó wood, 1985 (source)

Keep an eye out for our next featured designer in July!

In the meantime, tell us your favorite modern designer in the comments below!