Glass House by Lina Bo Bardi tOP IMAGE: Nelson Kon
In the past few years, museums have showcased some incredible design and architecture in Latin America, including the "Southern Geometries, from Mexico to Patagonia," exhibit on display now in Paris. When our home was being renovated several years ago, I visited the Blanton Museum in Austin to see the Moderno exhibit, a show that looked at design in Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela in mid-20th century. Our house was built in 1952, so I was intrigued about seeing this era through a different lens. (And this house above. My dream.)
"Tapestry"(1969) designed by Roberto Burle Marx for the Santo André Civic Center. PHOTO: David Heald Wall Street Journal
In Latin America, designers and architects and embraced modernism by incorporating ideas from Europe and America and combining them with their own cultural traditions.
I was drawn to the work of Roberto Burle Marx, a Brazilian landscape designer known for his seaside pavements in Rio de Janeiro, He was also a painter, sculptor, botanist, and ecologist. His painting and graphic plans for gardens stand on their own as artworks. Even his geometric lines have an organic quality, and juxtapose with the clean lines of Bauhaus. There is a liveliness to his work - an inviting energy you can feel.
Banca Safra roof garden, São Paulo, 1983
Roberto Burle Marx painting a tablecloth at his home PHOTO: ©TYBA The Jewish Museum
Also designing in multiple mediums, were Mercedes Pardo and Alejandro Otero, a couple working in Venezuela. They created collages, paintings, and large public sculptures and murals that explored abstraction, emphasizing rhythm and color over form.
In architecture and interiors, you can feel that repetition creates harmony. But it's rhythm that creates a sense of movement by incorporating some variation in the pattern. I thought about this as I was working on the Novo Collection. A seamless pattern creates a balanced wallpaper, but the element of hand painting and brush stroke brings rhythm, or flow to a room.
Studio located in the garden of the Alejandro Otero and Mercedes Pardo house. PHOTO: Miguel Hurtado
Their studio (above) was amazing. So much light and nature. But it's the lines of the windows (are they shutters? I’m not sure), that bring in that extra element of rhythm.
Art in the Daily Life Exposition at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, 1952.
And finally, I was so excited to discover Cuban furniture designer Clara Porset.“El arte en la vida diaria,” (Art in the Daily Life,)” a show she curated by in Mexico City in 1952, featured hand made and mass-produced objects: ceramics, pottery, glassware, appliances, textiles, outdoor furniture and native arts and crafts.
She wanted people to realize that living well, and being surrounded pleasing things wasn’t just for the wealthy. Selecting things for the home that are beautiful, useful, and well suited to your space keep the need for consumption in balance. It is somewhat a precursor of Marie Kondo theory - surround yourself with things that spark joy!
As I went further down the rabbithole of research, I ended back up in the contemporary interpretations (and my own):Prima by Pirwi range by Mexican designer Andrés Mier y Terán / Design Week Mexico - Paola Félix / Rincon wallpaper in Agave / The Salkin House, Bestor Architecture