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!