Semana Carlos Motta

written by:
September 19, 2010

September 21–24 marks Semana Carlos Motta, or Carlos Motta Week, with a series of New York events to celebrate the work of the Brazilian architect and furniture designer known for his use of salvaged woods. Beginning with Motta's lecture on sustainability and Brazilian furniture design at the AIA New York Center for Architecture, on Tuesday, September 21, the week moves into the opening for the exhibition “Used and Reused Wood: Furniture by Carlos Motta” at Espasso on Wednesday, September 22. (The pieces were just exhibited at the Museu da Casa Brasileira in São Paulo.) On Friday, September 24, Motta will give a lecture on tropicalism, sensuality and furniture at Phillips de Pury & Company, ahead of that evening’s opening reception for their September 29 Latin America auction. Coordinated and curated by Adriana Kertzer of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and Carlos Junquiera, the founder of Espasso, the events will also include a signing of Carlos Motta: Life as I See It on the opening night of the Espasso exhibition.



“Good design has a social and environmental responsibility,” says Motta, who makes many of his chairs, benches, tables and desks from wood salvaged from demolition sites. “A piece of furniture has to last for a long, long time, because we don’t change how we sit, sleep, eat, write, and so on, so the overall attitude should stay the same.” Motta, who says he likes to design for people who have the same basic needs as he does, calls the use of reclaimed wood in furniture “a simple matter of sustainability.” To follow is a selection of furniture that will be shown at the exhibition.

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  The Havaianas dining chair is the result of Motta’s recent collaboration with the popular Brazilian flip-flop company, which commissioned the chair, in freijó wood covered in the same grippy rubber used for the shoes, with a rubber handle in the back. It makes its United States debut at the Espasso exhibition. Photo courtesy Espasso.
    The Havaianas dining chair is the result of Motta’s recent collaboration with the popular Brazilian flip-flop company, which commissioned the chair, in freijó wood covered in the same grippy rubber used for the shoes, with a rubber handle in the back. It makes its United States debut at the Espasso exhibition. Photo courtesy Espasso.
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  Designed in 2002, the Asturias chair, also made as a rocker, was named for a favorite surf spot of Motta’s on the coast of São Paulo. “The construction technique is traditional woodworking, with rabbets [grooves] cut into the massive wood pieces,” says Motta. “In the woodshop, we always cut at basic 45-, 60- or 90-degree angles, in order to use as little equipment and electricity as possible.” Photo courtesy Espasso.
    Designed in 2002, the Asturias chair, also made as a rocker, was named for a favorite surf spot of Motta’s on the coast of São Paulo. “The construction technique is traditional woodworking, with rabbets [grooves] cut into the massive wood pieces,” says Motta. “In the woodshop, we always cut at basic 45-, 60- or 90-degree angles, in order to use as little equipment and electricity as possible.” Photo courtesy Espasso.
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  The Mandacaru bench, in durable peroba rosa wood with a wax finish, was designed to complement its namesake coat hanger (next slide). “I gave a native Brazilian Indian name to these pieces because they are reminiscent of the Mandacaru cactus, full of spines, from the dry areas of north of Brazil,” says Motta. Photo courtesy Espasso.
    The Mandacaru bench, in durable peroba rosa wood with a wax finish, was designed to complement its namesake coat hanger (next slide). “I gave a native Brazilian Indian name to these pieces because they are reminiscent of the Mandacaru cactus, full of spines, from the dry areas of north of Brazil,” says Motta. Photo courtesy Espasso.
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  The Mandacaru coat hanger, like the bench, was designed in 2009 of peroba rosa; Motta added ebonized cedar and Aroeira, which he says is possibly the hardest South American wood. Photo courtesy Espasso.
    The Mandacaru coat hanger, like the bench, was designed in 2009 of peroba rosa; Motta added ebonized cedar and Aroeira, which he says is possibly the hardest South American wood. Photo courtesy Espasso.
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  Motta’s Butantã bench, which he says is “made of reclaimed wood from an old bridge demolition.” Photo courtesy Espasso.
    Motta’s Butantã bench, which he says is “made of reclaimed wood from an old bridge demolition.” Photo courtesy Espasso.
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  Designed in 2009, the Butantã bench is held together by small, patinaed iron I beams. Photo courtesy Espasso.
    Designed in 2009, the Butantã bench is held together by small, patinaed iron I beams. Photo courtesy Espasso.
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  The Mantiqueiras sofa, designed in 2001 of peroba rosa. “This is a very low sofa, so you sit very close to the floor,” says Motta. “I made the first one for my house in the mountains, to go right in front the fireplace.” Photo courtesy Espasso.
    The Mantiqueiras sofa, designed in 2001 of peroba rosa. “This is a very low sofa, so you sit very close to the floor,” says Motta. “I made the first one for my house in the mountains, to go right in front the fireplace.” Photo courtesy Espasso.
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  Motta calls this Aroeira-wood table Jaraguá—“another beautiful Brazilian Indian name,” he says. “This wood was once part of a post used by the English company Light, when they came to Brazil in 1910 to install power lines from São Paulo to inland towns.” Photo courtesy Espasso.
    Motta calls this Aroeira-wood table Jaraguá—“another beautiful Brazilian Indian name,” he says. “This wood was once part of a post used by the English company Light, when they came to Brazil in 1910 to install power lines from São Paulo to inland towns.” Photo courtesy Espasso.
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  The ultra-low Caju coffee table, a 2004 design in peroba rosa wood. Photo courtesy Espasso.
    The ultra-low Caju coffee table, a 2004 design in peroba rosa wood. Photo courtesy Espasso.
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  “I called this chair Radar, because the back rotates around its pivot point and reminds me of a radar device,” says Motta. Designed in 2008, the chair is made of peroba rosa and oxidized iron. Photo courtesy Espasso.
    “I called this chair Radar, because the back rotates around its pivot point and reminds me of a radar device,” says Motta. Designed in 2008, the chair is made of peroba rosa and oxidized iron. Photo courtesy Espasso.
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  The Horizonte desk in waxed peroba rosa and cabriúva wood, iron and leather, from 2009. Photo courtesy Espasso.
    The Horizonte desk in waxed peroba rosa and cabriúva wood, iron and leather, from 2009. Photo courtesy Espasso.
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  Named after a surf spot on the São Paulo coast, Taguaíba was designed in 2008 of peroba wood. Motta says that he strives to “stay far away from the ephemeral and what is en vogue,” in his designs, which he hopes “fulfill their utilitarian function and are comfortable and durable, with a good aesthetic.” Photo courtesy Espasso.
    Named after a surf spot on the São Paulo coast, Taguaíba was designed in 2008 of peroba wood. Motta says that he strives to “stay far away from the ephemeral and what is en vogue,” in his designs, which he hopes “fulfill their utilitarian function and are comfortable and durable, with a good aesthetic.” Photo courtesy Espasso.

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