Brazilian Furniture Designer Humberto da Mata Mixes Colors and Textures to Create Tactile Pieces

With the backdrop of lush greens in the Brazilian forest and the vibrant colorful urban murals of the city streets, it’s no wonder that São Paulo based furniture designer Humberto da Mata creates collections so vivid and tactile. It’s not surprising then that he explains his pieces are a result of the things that surround him and the ideas that come to mind.

Da Mata’s design style evolved from playing around while researching materials and in doing so creating new objects in beautifully strange ways. We reached out to da Mata to ask about how to straddle the divide between finding time to research and develop material, while also moving forward and keeping contact with the market that craves new designs.

After graduating from architecture and urbanism in the capital city of Brasília, he felt demotivated by the lack of enthusiasm for creativity there. He undertook a workshop in France with the Campana Brothers hosted by furniture company Vitra. It was here that he became absorbed with the idea of taking distinct and unusual objects and turning them into something new and creative, stating “the freedom of the process that Campana Brothers showed me was mind blowing.”

Can you tell us about your first commission?

The first object I designed was the glove stool. I had just left the Campana Studio (where I worked for four months) and received an invitation to participate in an exhibition during the Salone 2012 in Milan.

With his Fauna collection (above) he challenged the question of what is a side table, that goes against some of the consensus of what a table should or shouldn’t be. This is an idea he continues to play with.

What influences you?

Everything can influence me. That’s a little easy to say but it’s the truth. It’s hard to say exactly one type of thing, it could be beauty, ugliness, proportion, texture, rhythm etc… All the aspects of aesthetic can initiate a creative process.

The series of Cloud Chairs use patterned cotton fabric to create a voluminous puff, each one unique and made by hand. The padded tubes of cloth are intricately woven together onto metallic or wooden or frames. Some of them use brightly colored fabric, patterns, or subtler hues that create shadows and context between each interlaced piece.

How do you decorate your home? Do you keep a tidy workspace?

It’s been three years since I stopped working from home. I tried for some time but it was not very productive for me. I have a work space in a neighborhood close to my house, with a big open space. It’s not very tidy due to the amount of prototypes, fabric and diverse materials that I accumulate. For the creation process it’s important to me to be surrounded by a lot of things. At home is different; I have a smaller selection of things. I’m almost finished decorating my new place and trying to organize my house in a tidier way, the contrast between these two environments pleases me. I work in an exciting place but I need some organization to rest.

What are you working towards in 2017?

My year usually starts with a commercial event, hosted in February. It’s an event where I receive a lot of store owners from all over Brazil. So usually my first semester is very busy with the event and then with the production of the pieces that were sold to the showrooms.

During the second semester we have the Sao Paulo Design Week, that’s when I present some new concepts and new research. Right now I’m in the middle of this process, which involves starting a lot of projects and then selecting some to show during the design week.

So it’s a year cycle. I launch the ideas in the second semester and then I transform these more conceptual pieces into a commercial collection for stores. I’ve been doing this for the last five years and its been working really well, it’s a way to continue researching freely and at the same time making sure not to lose contact with the market.

What trends do you have your eye on?

I’m not really into looking for trends. My work is very intuitive and personal. In a certain way everything that I create has something to do with my life. Of course sometimes we get so exposed to something that it starts to appear in your work, but that’s not a goal, it’s a result of the hyper communicated world we live in. My goal is always to be true with myself, to produce what I like and what I think is beautiful or provocative, that’s what me drives me in my career.

As he continues with his research and development of materials for this year, we eagerly await the next batch of creativity. If you want to see more from Brazilian designers, check out this round up of some of the finest in Brazilian craft history.

We love to find out more from the artists themselves, and you can see some of our other artist interviews here, including one with a London based furniture maker who uses felled wood from his local forest to create stunning home lighting elements.

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Design: Humberto da Mata 

Photos: Humberto da Mata

*This article has been edited for clarity and length.