Sergio Rodrigues, born in Rio de Janeiro in 1927 was a remarkable personality, who managed to transform his anxieties into a coherent and revealing body work, that is as Brazilian as can be.
After graduating from the Faculdade Nacional de Arquitetura (FNA) in Rio de Janeiro in 1951, Rodrigues moved to Curitiba, where he co-founded Móveis Artesanal Paranaense in partnership with the Hauner brothers. Although it received a lot of attention, it was the first modern furniture store in Curitiba, the store wasn’t a success. In 1955 Rodrigues, who by now had returned to his hometown Rio de Janeiro, started OCA, one of the most influential and largest furniture manufacturers in Brazil.
Rodrigues most famous creation is the Mole armchair, designed in 1957. Comfortable and robust, it is a symbol of national design and expresses a clear desire to create furniture that is connected with the Brazilian soul. In a time when thin feet and toothpick shaped legs ruled, the design of the Mole contrasted starkly; with it’s thick and sturdy frame, and leather straps that form a basket to hold the thick leather cushions. The design is seen by many (including the designer himself) as a very Brazilian way of sitting, integrating ideas such as casualness, informality, laziness and relaxation. The Mole armchair is part of the collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and is still a huge sales success.
Other famous designs by Rodrigues are the Tonico armchair, created in 1963 for the company Half-Pataca, with a pliable cushion to support the neck, supported by adjustable straps and for example the Diz chair from 2002.
In 1968 Rodrigues left OCA, but kept creating designs from his home studio, ranging from furniture for hotels, residential and work environments, to systems of pre-fabricated homes. Sergio Rodrigues died in 2014 at the age of 87. ~HG.
Sergio Rodrigues, Soraia Cals, Icatu, Brazil, 2000