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‘Our poor, beautiful and culturally rich country’: the contemporary challenge of Brazilian design

Partner: V&A
Student: Frederico Duarte
Project Title: ‘Our poor, beautiful and culturally rich country’: the contemporary challenge of Brazilian design
Start Date: October 2014 
Supervisors: Luciana Martins ( Birkbeck, University of London) and Jana Scholze (V&A Furniture, Textile and Fashion Department)
Additional support: FCT (Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia)

About My Research:
Brazil’s complex history, miscegenated population, rich natural resources and recent, unprecedented class mobility provide the designers of this emerging superpower with unique cultural, social and material possibilities. In our globalised, increasingly virtual world, the distinctive artefacts they design are receiving international recognition from manufacturers, consumers, journalists and curators for their creativity, innovation and sustainability. Yet contemporary Brazilian product and furniture design lacks scholarly, critical works that examine how geography, craft traditions and social progress, but also stereotype, brand values and exploitation are involved in making things that sell in the local and global market.

Aims of My Research:
This project aims to provide innovative research on design practice in Brazil, with a specific focus on designer-led community projects. By positioning these activities and artefacts within a global history of design, and questioning how they are written about, exhibited and collected, it will encourage urgent, critical reflection on the impact and legacy of design.

Visit my 2016 Brazilian fieldwork notes here.

Image Credits: Toca Palha Collection, A Gente Transforma Várzea Queimada, creative direction: Marcelo Rosenbaum, Product design: Marcelo Rosenbaum and Pedrita Studio (Pedro Ferreira, Rita João), 2012, photo: Tatiana Cardeal