Furniture World News Desk on
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an evolution of how and where people live and work. There has been an increase in home buying as people increasingly have left city apartments for suburban homes. The volume of home improvement projects has also skyrocketed over the last several years, with many people who have been spending more time at home feeling anxious to enhance their environments. Simultaneously, companies are working to freshen up workplace setting as a different mix and cadence of employees return to the office. As people rethink their personal and professional environments, there are many considerations – but one constant is the demand for furniture and furnishings to finish these new living and work “spaces.”
One of the greatest challenges has been supply pressures in the industry to meet this growing demand. With furniture purchase orders up month-over-month by a staggering 7.2% in January of this year alone, furniture providers in the U.S. are struggling to keep up with the pace, with some delivery delays stretching six to eight months, if not longer. As ongoing supply chain issues, combined with labor shortages, add even more pressure to an already strained system, many buyers are growing increasingly discouraged and, consequently, furniture sellers and suppliers are getting creative – and international in their sourcing – and looking to stock their inventories with beautiful pieces from all over the world.
Enter Brazil: the sixth largest producer of furniture globally. Brazil has taken advantage of the current opportunity – where buyers are looking for unique and special pieces in a stressed supply and demand environment. As evidence, Brazilian furniture companies and designers have invested in innovative solutions that speed up production, shipping, and delivery. As a result of these efforts and more, furniture exports grew 50.9% from 2020 to 2021, with 35% of Brazil’s exports in the furniture industry specifically destined for American stores. Demand continues to go up in 2022, with early estimates showing that exports increased 42% in the first quarter of the year.
Here are three ways Brazil has elevated their furniture offerings and innovations over the past few years, positioning the country as one to watch for design catalogs, inspiration boards, wish lists, and more:
- Uniquely Brazilian:
In the 1950s, materials such as plastic, stainless steel, and fiberglass were not available in Brazil, so designers turned to natural materials such as local wood, cane, leather, and wicker – all of which are still used today. In fact, designers such as Joaquim Tenreiro, a forerunner in the industry who pioneered modernism in Brazil throughout the 20th century, leveraged the nation’s raw and natural building materials to create pieces that have since blazed the trail for global trends in the sector while making modernist design something of a national vernacular in Brazilian architecture.
Additionally, while modernist design is still fundamental to Brazilian furniture, many designers and companies have expanded their design inspiration to include elements of Brazil’s distinct landscape. As one example, designer Lia Siqueira looks to natural landscapes to create furniture made from local woods that highlight elements of Brazilian culture. Similarly, Omega Light, a lighting products and services company, creates fixtures inspired by the canoes off the shore of Brazil. Between Brazil’s rich history, dynamic landscape, and creative craftmanship, Brazilian furniture is undoubtedly unique to the country.
- Sustainability at the Forefront
As customers throughout the U.S. and all over the world become increasingly conscious of their individual environmental impact, Brazilian designers are working to reimagine their operating practices with sustainability in mind. In fact, nearly 99% of furniture companies in Brazil have environmental and/or sustainability certifications. The commitment in the industry to export products that have been verified as sustainably produced is apparent, with examples of companies like GEO Contemporary, another Brazilian lighting company, that uses local ceramic materials to construct their light fixtures in order to reduce waste at the end of a given product’s life cycle. Similarly, the aforementioned Omega Light recently developed a “Leaf” collection, which repurposes broken hangers from malls and plastic that once polluted the ocean into one of a kind light fixtures.
In an era defined by constantly changing interior trends, low-cost materials, and poor workmanship, it’s often rare to find furniture designers that prioritize sustainability. Brazilian designers, however, are staying true to their craftmanship roots in order to produce high-quality and durable pieces that are more environmentally friendly than their mass-produced alternatives. What’s more, the country as a whole has very strong environmental legislation that provides checks and balances to ensure environmental preservation is always at the forefront in the furniture sector and across other industries.
- Creativity and Variety
In recent years, Brazil’s furniture industry has become renowned for its vibrant and forward-thinking designs – with leading furniture collectors around the world seeking out Brazilian designers for their creativity. In order to drive even more recognition of the creativity Brazil’s artists are well-known for regionally, ApexBrasil, Brazil’s trade and investment promotion agency, recently sent more than 20 Brazil-based companies and 22 Brazilian designers to Casa Brasil, a two-week Brazilian experiential furniture “popup” activation in New York City’s trendy SoHo neighborhood, to showcase the best that Brazil has to offer.
Native Brazilian designer Natasha Schlobach created the sensory-packed exhibition [RF1] that perfectly captured the high-energy nature of Brazilian culture and design. Over the two weeks, Brazilian furniture designers displayed their innovative takes on flooring, lighting, seating, wallcovering, and textiles – with bold structures and unique color patterns purposed to capture the attention of American buyers, distributors, designers, and everyday consumers.
Since the start of the pandemic, furniture buyers around the world have suffered the impact of an industry crippled with shipping delays and supply chain obstacles. In the wake of these disruptions, Brazil has nimbly risen as a global furniture mecca, with sleek and sustainable designs that embody “Brasilidade” – the unique essence of Brazil. This sector has contributed to Brazil’s overall economic growth, with all goods and services produced in the country increasing 1% in the first quarter of 2022, compared to the first quarter of 2021, and the country’s overall economy seeing 1.7% growth in the same timeframes. For individuals and home design businesses looking to obtain furniture pieces that bring extraordinary and meaningful beauty to the rooms they live in, Brazilian design is worth a look.
About Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (ApexBrasil)
ApexBrasil is the Brazilian government’s trade and investment promotion agency. Regarding the investment activity, we support international investors as they analyze the opportunities to establish a plant in Brazil, start a partnership with a Brazilian company, or commit capital in Brazil through funds and companies. Our goal is to satisfy investors needs and generate results as we attract technology, innovation, new companies and generate jobs in Brazil. For more information, visit apexbrasil.com.