Wood was the favorite material for José Zanine Caldas, a brazilian design genius whose centenary is celebrated in 2019. Self-taught artist, designer and architect, he was born on the southern coast of Bahia and became a truly devoted of the forest, pioneer of the environmental protection in his country.

If you want to know more about this fabulous artist, until January 4, 2020, Zanine’s work is being exhibited in the R&Company Gallery, New York. It’s the first large retrospective of the brazilian artist in the United States. Last November, the R&Company and the brazilian publisher “Olhares” published a book about Zanine, with a lot of information and more than 300 photos about his work and his life. 

“There is a growing international interest in his work. He is one of Brazil’s most original designers, approaching his creations with a forward-looking vision”, said Zesty Meyers, R&Company’s CEO, to the Casa Vogue magazine.

Zanine’s work had three different phases. In the twenties, he opened an architectural scale model workshop in Rio de Janeiro, where he worked with names like Lucio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer, making prototypes of the Maracanã football stadium and a lot of jobs at building Brasilia, Brazil’s federal capital and Unesco World Heritage since 1987.

Between the 1940s and 1950s, he and two business partners started the Zanine, “Pontes and Co”., also called Móveis Artisticos Z. Their pieces were elegantly simple and very admired for the modernist style lovers. 

In the 1960s, Zanine came back to Bahia and found his great inspiration. As from local craftsmen who carved boats and furniture from felled trees, Zanine began to make pieces with wood recovered from deforestation done by eucalyptus plantations. He tried, whenever possible, to either use already felled trees or to plant a tree for each one he used. 

Zanine usually sayed: “I have great respect for wood, that all my life has taught me and thrilled me”. Today, this legacy is more important than never.

 

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