On Beauty: Experiencing the Soul of Brazilian Craftsmanship

As part of my series On Beauty, I thought I would share some photos from our visit today to The A Casa Museum in São Paulo, which was created by Renata Mellão in 1997, and it has the mission of contributing to the recognition, appreciation and development of Brazilian craft production and design, promoting cultural production, and the rescue and preservation of this knowledge. The current venue was built specifically to house the museum and was inaugurated in 2014, at Pedroso de Morais avenue, in the Pinheiros neighborhood of São Paulo.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Maria and I were able to visit today, and there were two different exhibitions, one in the main building and another in the annex. This second one was titled Moldar Mudar: a vida moldada no barro da alma which translates as “Mould to change: life moulded in the clay of the soul”. The exhibition presents distinctly different visions of the same experience, seeking a harmonious union between design and crafts. The designers are all part of the _ATY Group – Mari Dabbur, Marina Dias, Maria Helena Emediato, Maria Fernanda Paes de Barros and Aline Cassia Victor – with the exhibition including handmade ceramics, lamps, tables, shelves, mirrors and decorative objects.

Photo: Simon Robinson

I was extremely interested to learn about the meaning of the name of this group, and the way in which the name reveals the dynamic interplay between the whole and the parts, the one and the many, identity and difference.

_ATY is a Guarani suffix which means “the union of several parts”. As the exhibition notes explained, “each designer has his own authorial work and, in parallel as a group, researches the Brazilian crafts and shares the experience. The result is pieces of furniture, objects, exhibitions, lectures and actions that reflect different visions of the same experience, which coexist and reinforce plurality”.

Photo: Simon Robinson

The group explain this exhibition as an experience which begins “with an immersion trip in which, through the histories, techniques and traditions of the communities they visit, the designers seek to incorporate craftsmanship into design in order to value it, breaking the stereotype of regional manual labor and bringing a new way of seeing and understanding of the potential of Brazilian craftsman”.

The main exhibition space contained the single exhibition A Casa Bordada, which translates as The Embroidered House. As you can see below, it literally is a house which is constructed from hand-embroidered designs from all 27 states of Brazil.

Photo: Simon Robinson

In total there are sixty artists represented with two hundred different pieces, all with different styles and which celebrate the diversity of Brazilian society, culture and nature.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Magnifying glasses are provided for enable you to study the stitching up close.

Photo: Simon Robinson

I loved the many depictions of the incredible diversity of Brazilian wildlife, fauna and biomes. In this picture below, there was a huge sense of movement with the birds.

Photo: Simon Robinson.

It is an educational experience, with every tree and every bird depicted also having their name displayed as well.

Photo: Simon Robinson

While I have mentioned this before in other articles, it never ceases to amaze me just how much ecological wisdom the Brazilian people have naturally, which is often expressed in music, art and in carnival processions. The web of life is expressed poetically and succinctly in this design below, with the words “I look after the waters, I look after myself”.

Photo: Simon Robinson

The exhibition as a whole is quite deceptive. It seems as if it will just take a few minutes to explore, but in fact for those with the time, there are a huge number of designs to explore, study and enjoy.

Photo: Simon Robinson

The museum is located opposite the Tomie Ohtake Institute, where I have visited many times. So a visit to the A Casa Museum can easily be complemented with a trip to the institute as well. I have many articles which have my photographic studies which you can see here.

If you would like to visit A Casa, full details can be found on their website: www.acasa.org.br/visite

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