Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Jahara studied industrial design at Brasilia University, before moving to Italy for a stint at Venice University of Architecture and two years at Fabrica. This education, mixed with his own “chaotic input of Brazilian design” provides a distinct and multicultural mix of flavours in the Jahara Studio brand already. Brunno invited me to his studio/house in Botafogo. It's was nice to see all his objects occupying the space in a good harmony.
M: When I was looking for a collaboration in Brazil one of the reasons that I contacted you, was that I noticed a strong cultural presence in your work. How would you define Brazilian design in terms of style?
B: Yes, the Brazilian modernism came from an era where Brazilians were building a new country from scratch. With a European influence but with local materials and techniques, a new style was born, that now it’s called the "tropical modern". When we talk about modern, it's something that has broken the "classic", but it still happened 60, 70 years ago, so it's more "Brazilian vintage" than "modernist".
M: What happened after the "Brazilian modernism"?
B: In the '90s, the Campana brothers represented the chaos of the country in their own aesthetic, using materials and textures that were found around, combining them together in single pieces. The industry was not present, so the designers didn't have support with production, it was all self-made. Repetition, excess, this new style was coming directly from the people, if you look at a chair from the Campana brothers, you can see this repetition of an element that becomes a bigger texture, becoming exaggerated, just like Brazil. I have some friends that would like to have a minimal style, but I think it's impossible to be Brazilian and be minimal.
M: I noticed a common approach to the seating, almost all the designs of chairs and sittings are wide and comfortable, almost like they want to express this relaxed and chilled way of living life in Brasil.
B: Yes it’s common to see this posture in Brazilian chairs, a part of the stereotype that Brazilian bodies have, we do have a relaxed lifestyle, especially in Rio.
M: How does the Brazilian culture influence your work?
B: I live here, it's impossible not to be influenced. As you can see in my objects I try to use materials such as terracotta or straw, that do not belong to the design here, but they are used by people in everyday life. For me it's interesting to get inspiration from the popular culture and apply it to an object that could be defined more as "design", finding a Brazilian aesthetic, that in an international panorama can start a reflection on my own culture.
M: I think that Brazilian design in the last years has been recognized more and more, you started your career in Italy and then you moved back to Brazil, how did you experience this change? Do you think you have been part of the "new Brazilian design"?
B: In 2009, after being in Fabrica, the crisis was starting in Europe, so I decided to move back to Brazil. I felt a big wave of optimism here, to the contrary of the rest of the world, the world cup and Olympics were coming and everything was going up. With Lula, I think the situation was getting better, both on a social and economical aspect, you could feel a true general optimism, and this definitely influenced my work. The media from Europe was really interested in what was happening in Brazil, where design, architecture and artists were receiving interest from the rest of the world. So for me, it was a great moment to be back, together with Zanini and others, more or less the under 40 generation, we were being identified as the "new Brazilian design". But I think that now, in the last 2 years, things have changed. The political situation is not the same and Brazil is receiving different treatment.
M: What do you think is the Brazilian Stereotype? I think t it could be the Carnival no?
B: Yes the "carne-val" (meat) hahaha for sure the sex appeal, but I think the music is one of the most important things for us.
M: As a young designer I have to admit that the idea of coming to live here has crossed my mind, Brazil is one of the economically rising, and growing countries in the world, maybe there is more opportunity here than in saturated Europe for a designer? What do you think?
B: I don't think it's a good moment to move to Brazil and start a career here. We have a crisis here, it's hard to find a working place as a designer in a studio, if you work as a an entrepreneur it is for sure easier, you have to be the boss of yourself, designing, promoting and selling yourself. It's not impossible, because I have done it, but surely it's not easy. It's a "new" country, there is still space for new expression unlike Europe, it's just not that easy to make it profitable.