“The most Brazilian designer was Sergio Rodrigues—he was the genuine Brazilian. Today, it's Carlos Motta.”
"Brazil is such a mix of cultures," says Carlos Junqueira, a São Paulo native, as he sits in his office in his modern and contemporary Brazilian design showroom, Espasso, on North Moore Street in Manhattan. "We have so many different backgrounds and influences—Italian, Japanese, German—the furniture itself reflects a mix of everything."
A quick look around the stark white, two-floor showroom demonstrates his point beautifully: in the entry, there's a large, concrete and jacaranda wood dining table made in the 1960s by Polish-born, Brazilian-raised furniture designer Jorge Zalszupin. Nearby, there's the iconic wood and leather Mole armchair by Sergio Rodrigues, hailed as the father of Brazilian furniture. There are also chairs by the Italian-born modernist architect and designer Lina Bo Bardi, who reached her greatest creative heights after making Brazil her adopted home.
When he opened Espasso in Long Island City in 2002, Junqueira was the first-ever dealer in the U.S. to dedicate a showroom entirely to Brazilian design. More than a decade later, with showrooms in New York City, London, and Los Angeles,
he remains strongly devoted to promoting his homeland's most talented designers and has made a name for himself as the premier source for Brazilian furniture, art, and design objects outside of the country.
"We focus on the best of Brazilian designers, from the 1930s to contemporary design," says Junqueira, who has a roster of roughly nine core designers, both geniuses from the past as well as a newer generation of talents, like Zanini De Zanine, son of great Brazilian architect and designer Jose Zanine Caldas. "But sometimes I find a beautiful vintage piece that I get excited about and I introduce it to the floor. It's all about if there is a connection to what I am already showing here. It's like a little bit of history from different periods."
“We do more than just sell furniture. We are like a cultural center and a hub for both Brazilians and honorary Brazilians alike.”
One of the most standout names on his list of designer heavyweights is Carlos Motta, who celebrated his impressive body of work with a 50-piece retrospective exhibition, titled Atelier Carlos Motto: 40 years, at Espasso in September 2015. "The most Brazilian designer was Sergio Rodrigues—he was the genuine Brazilian. Today, it's Carlos Motta. All his pieces are named after Brazilian beaches and cities, and he's very focused on environmental conservation, so he uses lots of organic materials and reclaimed wood. All of the pieces are very conscious," says Junqueira, noting that most of the designers he works with are dedicated to working with sustainably conscious, Brazilian materials. "But we do more than just sell furniture. We are like a cultural center and a hub for both Brazilians and honorary Brazilians alike."
- kristin tice-studeman words
- jason schmidt photography & video
38 North Moore Street, New York, 10013
(212) 219-0017; espasso.com