We first came across his work when we used one of his pieces in last week’s 1stdibs post. There was just something so stunning about the credenza; it was somehow a perfect combination of Mid-Century Modern stylistic details and earthy, Brazilian sensibilities. Researching the rest of his portfolio, we were delighted to see the credenza wasn’t a fluke.
His designs, which include a huge body of work like lounge chairs, living room seating, dining chairs, coffee tables, credenzas, case goods, tables, bookshelves and more, all include the heady mixture of sleek, Mid-Century Modern lines and sparse design, but are also so very warm and natural. Many of his pieces feature warm and exotically-patterned wood grains, and we enjoyed his use of warm and earthly-colored upholstery choices like reds and tans in soft fabrics and leather.
Though many of his pieces feature straight lines, he also somehow incorporated lots of curves that were sensuous, but didn’t overwhelm the composition. Whereas curves may have looked contrived on another designer’s work, here, they look sexy and purposeful. Tenreiro was able to achieve what few are rarely able to do: furniture that both fits in with the Mid-Century Modern style, but is unique enough to stand apart from the crown completely.
Originally born in Portugal to a family of woodworkers and carpenters, he eventually immigrated to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in the 1920s. He first started working for an architecture firm, Laubissh & Hirth. In the 1940s, he became one of the first furniture designers to adopt a Mid-Century Modern, European design style. His initial designs were so successful he was able to open his own firm in 1943, and quickly became a favorite of Brazilian architects, like Oscar Niemeyer. As mentioned, he was known for using Brazilian hardwoods and other natural materials, and this was specific to the Brazilian climate, which was both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally brilliant. Though he stopped designing furniture in the 1960’s to focus on painting and sculpture exclusively, his work his still ultra popular today (and frankly, rather pricey!).