Jose Zanine Caldas

Хосе Занин Калдас

Jose Zanine Caldas (1919–2001) was a pioneer of Brazilian design and architecture, one of the creators of modern material culture in Brazil. His varied legacy in architecture, design and art is still the subject of study. In 1989, the Parisian Museum of Decorative Arts dedicated a retrospective exhibition “Zanine  Architect and Forest” to him, and the French Academy of Architecture awarded him a medal. His work is on display in museums around the world.


He was known for creating architectural models, industrial furniture and handcrafted items. His practice included sculpture, landscape design, social architecture and luxury villa projects, and research into the use and reuse of Brazilian wood. The ecological approach became his guiding principle and ensured an inextricable link between aesthetics and ethics.


Caldas' aesthetics are based on a dialogue with folk crafts and building practices. He had no academic background and was self-taught in many disciplines. For more than 10 years, he ran a workshop specializing in large-scale architectural models, where he designed more than 500 models for leading Brazilian architects, including Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa.


In the 1970s he moved to the coastal town of Nova Viçosa. The thoughtless cutting down of precious forests that took place in the area inspired him to create a collection, later called Móveis Denúncia — Protest Furniture. The movement began with experiments in using leftover wood from logging. He only used fallen or dead trees.


Caldas has always turned to local artisans to highlight the beauty of the region's natural resources. His monumental objects were often made of solid wood.


The designer sought to highlight the rare and precious skills of artisans by often working in collaboration with craftsmen in carving and canoe building. His friend, sculptor Frans Krajcberg, helped him to achieve more expressive forms. These pieces always remain as close as possible to the original nature of the wood, retain the texture and color of the original material, imperfections such as knots or cracks and combine surprising brutalism and sensuality. In his search for an original language, Caldas also preserved the visual codes of modernism, introducing them into the atmosphere of homes, offices and public spaces. He is one of the most important creators of a distinctive Latin American design vocabulary.