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March 2, 2010

We were saddened to hear of the death of Sergio Rodrigues, known as the father of Brazilian modernism, recognized both for his architecture and interior design. Rodrigues, who died yesterday at the age of 86, was renown for his furniture, often executed with humor and whimsy: His Mole chair and sofa is exaggeratedly fat with flaps of black leather; the Tonico chair and sofa includes an oversize, belted bolster; and his Aspas (Quotation Marks) chair is sometimes known as the Chifruda chair, which roughly translates to a woman whose husband tends toward cheating.

Sergio Rodrigues

We’ll start with the captain: Sergio Rodrigues, who was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1927, sits in his Mole chair, designed in 1961 and identifiable by its generous arm padding.

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Rodrigues and colleagues at his first architecture office in 1950. Photo courtesy <a href="http://espasso.com/">Espasso</a>.

Rodrigues and colleagues at his first architecture office in 1950. Photo courtesy Espasso.

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The Oca Industries factory in Sao Paolo, 1950s. Photo courtesy <a href="http://espasso.com/">Espasso</a>.

The Oca Industries factory in Sao Paolo, 1950s. Photo courtesy Espasso.

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Rodrigues’s sketch for an interior for a house in Rio de Janeiro, 1955. Image courtesy <a href="http://espasso.com/">Espasso</a>.

Rodrigues’s sketch for an interior for a house in Rio de Janeiro, 1955. Image courtesy Espasso.

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Kim Novak tries out the Moleca chair in the Oca Industries gallery, date unknown. Photo courtesy <a href="http://espasso.com/">Espasso</a>.

Kim Novak tries out the Moleca chair in the Oca Industries gallery, date unknown. Photo courtesy Espasso.

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A prototype of a seaside house, from 1960. Photo courtesy <a href="http://espasso.com/">Espasso</a>.

A prototype of a seaside house, from 1960. Photo courtesy Espasso.

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Le Corbusier visits Rodrigues in Rio, date unknown. Photo courtesy <a href="http://espasso.com/">Espasso</a>.

Le Corbusier visits Rodrigues in Rio, date unknown. Photo courtesy Espasso.

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Models in the Candangos Auditorium armchair, 1964. Photo courtesy <a href="http://espasso.com/">Espasso</a>.

Models in the Candangos Auditorium armchair, 1964. Photo courtesy Espasso.

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Rodrigues (right) in a 2007 photograph with Oscar Niemeyer, with whom he collaborated and who said that for a time, “the designer I requested furniture from mostly was Sergio Rodrigues.” Photo courtesy <a href="http://espasso.com/">Espasso</a>.

Rodrigues (right) in a 2007 photograph with Oscar Niemeyer, with whom he collaborated and who said that for a time, “the designer I requested furniture from mostly was Sergio Rodrigues.” Photo courtesy Espasso.

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George Nelson in a Rodrigues armchair, Rio, 1965. Photo courtesy <a href="http://espasso.com/">Espasso</a>.

George Nelson in a Rodrigues armchair, Rio, 1965. Photo courtesy Espasso.

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A Rodrigues house in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. Photo courtesy <a href="http://espasso.com/">Espasso</a>.

A Rodrigues house in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. Photo courtesy Espasso.

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The Diz armchair emanates mid-century style, but was designed by Rodrigues, in solid tauari wood, in 2002. Photo courtesy <a href="www.espasso.com">Espasso</a>.

The Diz armchair emanates mid-century style, but was designed by Rodrigues, in solid tauari wood, in 2002. Photo courtesy Espasso.

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The Tonico da Oca chair was designed in the 1960s out of jacaranda and leather, with a suspended and harnessed bolster. 
Photo courtesy <a href="www.espasso.com">Espasso</a>.

The Tonico da Oca chair was designed in the 1960s out of jacaranda and leather, with a suspended and harnessed bolster. Photo courtesy Espasso.

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Rodrigues made a Tonico sofa in the 1960s, also of jacaranda and leather. 
Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.nohomodern.com">Noho Modern</a>.

Rodrigues made a Tonico sofa in the 1960s, also of jacaranda and leather. Photo courtesy Noho Modern.

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The 1965 Eleh bench in jacaranda. Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.espasso.com">Espasso</a>.

The 1965 Eleh bench in jacaranda. Photo courtesy Espasso.

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The Aspas (Quotation Marks) chair, made out of solid jacaranda and leather for the 1962 Furniture as Objects of Art exhibition in Brazil, was not produced for decades, due to its being too expensive to make. Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.nohomodern.c

The Aspas (Quotation Marks) chair, made out of solid jacaranda and leather for the 1962 Furniture as Objects of Art exhibition in Brazil, was not produced for decades, due to its being too expensive to make. Photo courtesy Noho Modern.

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In 2009 Rodrigues reproduced a limited edition of 40 Aspas, also known as the Chifruda, of imbuia and freijó wood frame and leather, through <a href="http://www.espasso.com">Espasso</a>.

In 2009 Rodrigues reproduced a limited edition of 40 Aspas, also known as the Chifruda, of imbuia and freijó wood frame and leather, through Espasso.

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Echoing the exaggerated headrest of the Aspas chair, the Bule chair was designed in 1996. Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.espasso.com">Espasso</a>.

Echoing the exaggerated headrest of the Aspas chair, the Bule chair was designed in 1996. Photo courtesy Espasso.

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The Katita chair, in peroba wood with black upholstery, made in 2004 to a 1997 design. Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.espasso.com">Espasso</a>.

The Katita chair, in peroba wood with black upholstery, made in 2004 to a 1997 design. Photo courtesy Espasso.

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Designed in 1973, the Kilin chair is currently manufactured by LinBrazil, with a single sling of leather. Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.espasso.com">Espasso</a>.

Designed in 1973, the Kilin chair is currently manufactured by LinBrazil, with a single sling of leather. Photo courtesy Espasso.

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A circa 1965 design, the Tcheco table lamp is made from peroba do campo wood and chrome steel with a hemp lampshade and produced by Mendes-Hirth in Brazil. Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.espasso.com">Espasso</a>.

A circa 1965 design, the Tcheco table lamp is made from peroba do campo wood and chrome steel with a hemp lampshade and produced by Mendes-Hirth in Brazil. Photo courtesy Espasso.

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Rodrigues designed the tauari-wood Sonia stool in 1997; its cutout reminiscent of a similar motif in his iconic 1954 Mocho stool. Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.espasso.com">Espasso</a>.

Rodrigues designed the tauari-wood Sonia stool in 1997; its cutout reminiscent of a similar motif in his iconic 1954 Mocho stool. Photo courtesy Espasso.

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The 1957 Poltrona Mole, translating directly to “soft chair” and also known as Sheriff, with its original leather upholstery and straps. MoMA has one in its permanent collection. Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.merrillantiques.com/">Todd Merrill Antiqu

The 1957 Poltrona Mole, translating directly to “soft chair” and also known as Sheriff, with its original leather upholstery and straps. MoMA has one in its permanent collection. Photo courtesy Todd Merrill Antiques.

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A recent photo of Rodrigues with a table of his design. Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.nohomodern.com/">Noho Modern</a>.

A recent photo of Rodrigues with a table of his design. Photo courtesy Noho Modern.

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Sergio Rodrigues

We’ll start with the captain: Sergio Rodrigues, who was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1927, sits in his Mole chair, designed in 1961 and identifiable by its generous arm padding.

Rodrigues, who remained active in the design world his entire life, was especially prolific during the midcentury modern period, founding his design firm, Oca Industries in 1955, moving on in 1968 to concentrate on hotel and residential designs, including prefab housing. Having attended the School of Architecture in Brazil, he was aware of the fact that the architectural renaissance spawned by his close collaborator Oscar Niemeyer was unmatched when it came to furnishing the new buildings. “They used colonial-style furniture or imported pieces,” Rodrigues remembers. “Furniture was lacking the national identity achieved in architecture.” To follow, an overview of Rodrigues’s life's work in design, architecture and furniture spanning 60 years.

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