04/17/2014 11:11 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Hugo França: From Forest to Furniture (Video)

Brazilian artist Hugo França began his professional life as an industrial engineer in São Paulo, before making the decision to quit his job at a computer company and move into the jungles of northeast Brazil. For 15 years he lived and worked alongside indigenous tribes, learning their generations-old woodworking techniques and traditions.


Today, from his beautiful atelier in São Paulo and a workshop in Trancoso, Bahia, his furniture, made solely from reclaimed wood and usually from the Pequi tree, celebrates both natural material and form. His self-coined "furniture sculpture" can be seen in exhibitions globally from Design Miami Basel to ArtRio.


Originally using disused canoes, França has adopted sustainable methods of collecting materials to work with. Rather than attempting to find shapes that fit his designs, he uses existing natural forms as the first stage of the design process. Here, the raw material of the Pequi tree is somewhere in between a ready-made object and a block of stone to be chipped away at.


His work could quite easily be mistaken for art alone, however beneath the beauty lies genuine functionality. Going against the sculptural grain, França's designs encourage interactivity - in other words, the pieces are to be touched, sat upon or curled up in.

Text by Tilly Sleven for

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