In the eye of Brazil Modernist: the bedside table by Joaquim Tenreiro

Brazilian bedside table by Joaquim Tenreiro


This bedside table is a little jewel of the creation of the great master of Brazilian modernist design Joaquim Tenreiro. Resting on four legs of tapered square section, it presents a drawer with a round wooden handle on the front. Created in the early 1950s, it still bears the workshop label " Lagenbasch & Tenreiro Ltda " For this bedside table Tenreiro has chosen "perobinha do campo" wood, a noble wood, of excellent quality, warm and originating from the Brazilian southwest.


With a perfect cubic geometry, Tenreiro plays here on simplicity. His great mastery of his profession allows him to go directly to the essentials of his refined design, then to embellish his creation with discreet, meticulous finishes, such as the precision of the assembly. interior or the elegance given to the drawer top Beneath the purity of its forms, this piece hides its resources of complexity and attention.


Biography of Joaquim Tenreiro:


Joaquim Tenreiro, renowned in Brazil as the Master of Masters among the designers of his generation, knows a paradoxical destiny, the one who allows wood to express itself with the most subtlety and nobility, " seeks the vocation of his raw material ” according to A Houaiss; this while Tenreiro would like to be a painter or a sculptor, passionate as he is for art in general, and that of his time in particular.


From his youth, he received the love of wood as a legacy. Indeed his father is a cabinetmaker himself, and the most talented in his region in Portugal according to Tenreiro.


With this training in the family cradle in the region of Melo in Portugal, he arrived in Brazil in 1928, and completed his master's degree by working for Laubisch & Hirth from 1931 to 1942. There, first as an apprentice and then as a designer, he perfected himself personally in being responsible for making furniture of all styles, but he also learned teamwork with hundreds of craftsmen with various specialties.


It is also in this house that he gains confidence in his abilities, having to carry out orders for a new request that does not find what it is looking for in the company catalog. This new taste comes first of the upper middle class of the public service who, living in the new achievements of architects such as Oscar Niemeyer , wishes to furnish these dwellings with modern lines of adapted furniture. Need of novelty, certainly, but also of a local anchorage , both for meteorological reasons and by the appetite emerging at that time in Brazil to create  a decolonial style in search of a specific identity


Tenreiro, the first, will be able to reconcile his expectations, certainly drawing inspiration from European modernists for the clean lines, but which he will lighten with delicate curves, mainly in wood from which he will be able to make the most of the exceptional species he has available, as well as using a lot of caning or structure that lets the whole thing breathe by opening the circulation of air through its pieces. It therefore makes the link in constant balance between high tradition craftsmanship and modernist innovation, a trait that the we find in the influence he will have on the other artists of Brazilian modernist design, in Sergio Rodrigues in particular.






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