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Rodrigo Silveira – Get Your Hands Dirty!

Designer Rodrigo Silveria started wood working when he began collage. As he studied industrial design at the Brazilian school FAAP, he was introduced to carpentry. Today he makes money by selling his work.


My interest in design came through the fine arts. I used to see my mother, who is an artist, using her knowledge in arts to make a sculpture or paint a canvas. She always did this easily because, in my opinion, she has great references in arts in general. So since I was a kid I got interested, and learned about arts. The design came later, when I was choosing which undergraduate course I wanted to do. I was looking for a way to apply the little bit of art knowledge I had into something that I could interact with more, something more practical. That is how furniture got into my life.

When I was at the university, I used to believe that industrial design was the most important kind of design. Nowadays, my point of view is completely different. People want more and more customized pieces. And they are definitely nicer to make. As you can see, handmade pieces, sometimes even unique ones, are the north of my work now.

First I found a theme: seats. All my Brazilian references in design were very good seat designers. With this theme in mind I went to the second problem (in my case solution), which is how to use materials responsibly. I usually use pieces of wood discarded by other professionals, mostly carpenters, so the problem is how to make this piece attractive.

Besides that, another important concept is to discard as little material as possible, when doing the piece of furniture, which means making good use of it.

The most challenging part in this profession, for sure, is to have your work recognized. I don't mean recognized like becoming famous, but like a guy whose work is good. I think it is challenging for every young designer because a lot of people still buy design products because of the name on the tag, not exactly because of the product itself. Of course the famous designers have a lot of reasons for being famous, but there’re also a lot of new and good people, whose work deserve more space. The space issue, by the way, is the core of this difficulty. When new designers sell their pieces to good stores, they usually get paid very badly. So make money selling your work into stores becomes quite hard. That was, of course, another reason why I decided to not only design and produce my stools, but also selling them. It becomes cheaper to buyers and I also make some money.

I've learned from experience that in some places design is still a mystified subject. Design products are sometimes treated as if it were meant for few people only, expensive, elitist. This is exactly the opposite of the design idea. Design is meant to help objects become more comfortable, beautiful, and easy to use. That is what everybody wants and needs. Design should be everywhere for everybody, for the sake of comfort and satisfaction. That is why my stools are like that, accessible in many ways. They are accessories you could easily give to someone as a present and it won't disturb, as it is not the ambient main character. You don't have to have a super fancy house to have design objects, you know? They are also affordable and environmentally responsible. Not to mention they are sold online. Could it be more accessible? That is something very important I believe. It has to be accessible, not mystified.


As I said to a guy from USA, that asked me some tips to start in this profession, GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY to design well. In my opinion, a designer must learn the whole process. That is the only way to know the possibilities and the restrictions implied by the material you are using. And, well, there is also a prerequisite: deepen yourself in arts in general. Arts are always the best source of reference.

I believe a lot in e-commerce. That is why I've launched Madebyrodrigo.com this year. And I'm planning on launching another one next year, that would be more wide-ranging than the first one. By that I mean that the new website is going to be where I'm going to show my other design projects besides stools. Because of those projects I have been researched on how to divulgate my work abroad. Because Internet has this advantage, it can take your work everywhere.

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