Event alert! From May 12 to 15 in Miami Beach, the inaugural edition of MAISON&OBJET AMERICAS has ushered a wide array of new releases and happenings into its orbit. The highlight of the session: the naming of the first M&O AMERICAS Designer of the Year. A chance to meet the magnetic Brazilian Zanini de Zanine.
Zanini de Zanine fell into design when he was little. The gifted thirty-something Brazilian is none other than the son of Rio’s great architect and designer José Zanine Caldas (1919-2001). The poetic effectiveness of modernist architecture, the warmth and presence of wood, the ability to anchor harmonies that are built in the eye in materials and space—his legacy is considerable.
Weaned on drawing — his passion — and manual construction — he grew up in his father’s studio, where he built his own toys — he was also nursed by family friendships with the cream of the crop of Golden Age Carioca creators. Architects Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa, musician Tom Jobim, writer Jorge Amado and sculptor Amilcar de Castro were some of the good fairies who helped the little Zanini to become who he is.
He would then intern for a year with the cult figure Sergio Rodrigues — one of the inventors of modern furniture in Brazil — as part of his Industrial Design studies at the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio). After graduating in 2003, he soon founded a “contemporary carpentry” studio in his hometown. Seven craftsmen would make unique furniture pieces and small series that put the spotlight on hardwood recovered from old colonial houses. In 2005, he created a new line of furniture to be industrially produced. This time, the pieces would be made from wood of controlled origin combined with modern materials such as metal, acrylic and plastic. The Zanini studio was then launched in order to represent the collection.
Since then, the designer’s products have been distributed by prestigious galleries like Mercado Moderno in Rio and Espasso in New York. We all know what came next: today, Zanini de Zanine designs pieces for famous brands. Tolix, Slamp, Espasso, Cappellini and Poltrona Frau have already fallen for his new generation Brazilian touch. His family legacy is brilliantly a lock.