The design world, particularly the product design sector, is generally considered the province of the West. Dominant and routinely biased, this Western perspective typically spotlights creations from North America and Europe. Yet design is in truth the preserve of every country and nationality, irrespective of geography, cultural persuasion and political leaning. In today’s globalized society, the art of making and crafting has been afforded new and unprecedented opportunities to emerge, develop and grow, finding directions that are often novel, experimental and innovative.
Latin America is indubitably one of those territories where architecture, design and craft are securing their rightful place on the world stage. Argentina, for example, is home to fertile ground for the development of design that is world-class, future-focused, creative and fresh. Localism is in many ways the cornerstone of good design, where collaboration between small manufacturers and designers ensures that product development is less about commodification and more about aesthetics, longevity and sustainability.
The 2015 Salone del Mobile in Milan will host a select cohort of Argentine designers (in Pavilion 8 at the Milan Fairgrounds) chosen by Venezuelan-born curator Marva Griffin Wilshire. Estudio Brana is one of the studios chosen to present its latest work. Led by architect Agostina Branchi, Brana seeks to transform each environment into a unique space. Original ideas are materialized in a manner that retains a product’s usefulness and aesthetic qualities. The firm specializes in designing furniture that expresses a distinct identity with a focus on quality. Pieces are ergonomic, clean and imbued with a modern aesthetic.
The Ocaña Stool and Estel Stool are two examples of Brana seating with a similar style and practicality. Ocaña is offered in two sizes. Its curved lines overlap to form a contemporary whole. The material—reconstituted wood from Guatambu, Brazil—is used efficiently, excess from the larger stool being employed to manufacture a smaller children’s model. Moreover, Ocaña can be used to store magazines or even towels in the bathroom. The Estel Stool, made from the same wood, uses the replication of straight lines to create an imaginative, pleasing seat. Upend the stool and it becomes a magazine rack, a solution particularly suited to compact spaces.
These stools by Estudio Brana express an understated approach to design, providing the balance that is often lacking in today’s consume-and-throw-away society. Their neutrality and restraint allow the user to interpret each piece in his or her own way. They appear effortless, with a clear expression of form. It is design that strives to have a positive impact on people at the very core of their being.