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Sergio Rodrigues, born in Rio de Janeiro in 1927, was a prolific architect and designer known as the "father of modern Brazilian design." He played a crucial role in shaping the modernist furniture movement in Brazil, capturing the spirit, character, and personality of his country in his designs.

In the early 20th century, Brazil experienced a slow transition to modernity, both politically and culturally. Heavy furniture based on historical European models was prevalent until the late 1940s when designers like Joaquim Tenreiro and José Zanine Caldas introduced sleek, minimalist, and plywood furnishings that embraced modern design aesthetics. Italian architect Lina Bo Bardi also contributed to the scene with her elegant and flexible chairs.

Sergio Rodrigues arrived on this burgeoning design scene after graduating from the national university in 1952. He founded Oca Industries in 1955, which became a prominent maker of modernist furniture in Brazil. His early chairs, characterized by softly-contoured lines and caned seats and backrests, were used by renowned architects Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer to furnish many buildings in Brasília, the new capital of Brazil.

Rodrigues achieved international acclaim with his iconic Mole chair in 1957. "Mole" means "soft" in Portuguese, but it can also be interpreted as "easygoing" or "listless." The chair featured a robust frame made of native South American hardwood jacaranda, upholstered with overstuffed leather pads that draped like saddlebags across the arms, seat, and backrest. The Mole chair perfectly embodied the social milieu of Brazil during the bossa nova era, where relaxation and enjoyment were central.

Throughout his extensive career, Sergio Rodrigues created approximately 1,200 furniture designs, including armchairs, sofas, tables, storage cabinets, and dining tables. Each piece reflected his unique style and exuded a sense of robust relaxation. Rodrigues was dedicated to capturing the temperament and essence of the Brazilian people in his work, and his designs stood as a testament to his genuine understanding and representation of the Brazilian spirit.

Sergio Rodrigues remained true to the playful character of his nation, leaving behind a rich legacy as one of the most influential figures in modern Brazilian design. His furniture designs continue to be cherished and celebrated, reflecting his profound impact on the world of design.


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