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 Sao Paulo based furniture designer, Humberto da Mata, creates collections so vivid and tactile. The architecture and urbanism graduate explains that his pieces are a result of the things that surround him and the ideas that come to mind. His design style evolved from playing around while researching materials, and in doing so he found himself creating new objects in beautifully strange ways.
Intrigued to find out more about his design process, we reached out to da Mata to ask how he straddles the divide between finding time to research and develop material, while also moving forward and keeping with the market that craves new designs.
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) da Mata challenged the question of what is a side table – going 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.
Da Mata’s 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 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.
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 it’s been working really well. It’s a way to continue researching freely and at the same time making sure not to lose 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 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!
Please note that some answers have been edited for length and clarity.