A self-taught artist, designer and architect, Jose Zanine Caldas (1919-2001) was born on the southern coast of Bahia in Brazil. At age twenty, he opened an architectural scale model workshop in Rio de Janeiro where he worked with modernist pioneers such as Lucio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer.
In 1948, he and two business partners started the company Móveis Artisticos Z. Their elegantly simple, organically-shaped pieces in plywood were produced at a price point that made them accessible to the emerging market of collectors with an eye toward a modern style.
In the early 1950s, Zanine left the company and returned to his home state of Bahia. Heavily inspired by the local craftsmen there who carved boats and furniture from felled trees, Zanine began experimenting with chiseling and carving large, sculptural works, which became the focus of his later career. He also set himself apart with his pavilion-type architectural constructions in richly-colored hewn logs. Zanine was a devoted steward of the forest and proponent of environmental protection. He wrote extensively about his connection to the forest and tried, whenever possible, to either use already felled trees or to plant a tree for each one he used.
Zanine’s work has been exhibited in the Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris and throughout his native Brazil. In 2015, it was included in Moderno: Design for Living in Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela 1940-1978, a traveling exhibition organized by the Americas Society.
Exhibited at Design Miami/ 2023 This coffe table is an unique piece created and crafted by Jose Zanine Caldas in his atelier in Nova Viçosa, Bahia in the late 1970's. Made with forest waste is a great example of what the archiotect and designer called "Protest Furniture".Protest Furniture, a term coined by the renowned architect and designer José Zanine Caldas, represents a compelling movement in the world of design. Born from a deep commitment to sustainability and a powerful social and environmental message, Protest Furniture emerged as a response to the excessive deforestation and misuse of natural resources. José Zanine Caldas, who was a self- taught architect and designer, saw an opportunity to utilize discarded or waste wood from deforested areas in Brazil as the raw material for his innovative creations. During the late 1970s, in his atelier in Nova Viçosa, Bahia, Zanine Caldas channeled his visionary ideas into unique pieces of furniture, such as the coffee table in question. These pieces were not just functional; they were statements of protest against environmental degradation. The use of forest waste as the primary material was a bold and symbolic move, drawing attention to the urgent need for sustainable practices and conservation of natural resources.
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