NOHO Modern
6162 Santa Monice blvd,
Hollywood, CA 90038

Tel: 310-360-3990

Zanini de Zanine

October 23-December 18, 2009

Opening Reception: October 23, 2009 6-9pm

NOHO Modern is proud to present the work of Brazilian artist and designer Zanini de Zanine Caldas. The exhibition will open October 23, 2009 and will run through December 18. An opening reception will be held on October 23 from 6-9 pm at 6162 Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood. All works in the exhibition have been executed within the last four years in Rio de Janeiro. This is the first major exhibition for Zanini in the United States, and his largest worldwide to date.

"Zanini's work is a breath of fresh air in a world of new art design that has become infamous for high prices, false claims to ecological sensitivity, shabby quality and dysfunctionality. His work has a beauty and quality that is evident even upon meticulous inspection," states co-owner Thomas Hayes. "Zanini continues the important ecologically-conscious tradition that his father began," adds co-owner Jeremy Petty. "He uses only reclaimed materials for all his sculptures and furniture, and he never compromises his artistic ideals by finding an inherently beautiful piece of wood, sanding it, and calling it a table. You can actually see the hand of the artist in his work, as he releases the chair or table from the trunk or the stump of a tree."

Zanini de Zanine was born in 1978 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His childhood was spent with his father, the great Brazilian architect and designer José Zanine Caldas. Zanini was exposed to working with wood before learning to walk, and under the tutelage of his father, developed a keen sense of artistry. Zanini was in essence raised to be a furniture designer; he has been committed to this pursuit his entire life. In 2002 Zanini received his degree in Industrial Design from Pontifíca Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-RIO), and in the following year opened his own atelier producing furniture and sculptures made out of the finest exotic hardwoods which are painstakingly salvaged, sometimes from his father's architectural work. His talent for design and his appreciation for craftsmanship has led him to success early in his career and afforded him the opportunity to meet and work with some of the most respected names in Brazilian architecture and design, including Lúcio Costa, Sergio Rodrigues, and Sergio Bernardes. Sergio Rodrigues pays homage to Zanini: "Zanini de Zanine inherited all the artistic and artisanal qualities in addition to his moral and ethical virtues from his father. Zanininho, as I call him, served as an apprentice but collaborated with me like a veteran designer in my studio. All of his...designs contrasted with his humility."


Zanini de Zanine's Work

The Exhibition & Opening Reception

Zanini de Zanine was born in 1978 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and spent most of his childhood with his father, the great Brazilian architect and designer José Zanine Caldas. Zanini was exposed to working with wood at a young age and, under the tutelage of his father, developed a keen sense of artistry. His talent for design and his appreciation for craftsmanship have led him to success early in his career and given him the opportunity to meet and work with some of the most respected names in Brazilian architecture and design, including Lúcio Costa, Sergio Bernardes, and an apprenticeship with Sergio Rodrigues.

In 2002 Zanini de Zanine graduated from the Pontifical Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro (PUC-RIO) with a degree in Industrial Design, and in the following year, opened his own atelier producing furniture and sculptures made out of the highest quality salvaged exotic woods. He is the recipient of a number of prestigious awards in Brazil including the Prize Artefacto in 2008 in Sao Paulo. Zanini de Zanine has also taken part in numerous exhibitions in Brazil, as well as several abroad including the International Design Biennial in Saint- Etienne, France in 2004 and 2006 and has also led workshops, such as the Ècole d’ Art Visuel de la Martinique, in the Caribbean in 2007.


2000 - 2001 Apprenticeship under Sergio Rodrigues

1978 - 2000 Trained under his father, Jose Zanine Caldas


2009 First Place Salao Design (Bento Goncalves, Brazil)

2009 First Place XXI ARC DESIGN, New Brazilian Talent (Sao Paulo, Brazil)

2008 Honorable Mention for de Museu da Casa Brasileira (Sao Paulo,Brazil)
2008 Prize Artefacto (Sao Paulo, Brazil)

2008 First Place Planeta Casa-casa Claudia ( Sao Paulo, Brazil)

2008 Selected for Bienal International de Saint-Etienne (France)

2007 Led “Mobilier-Detournement,” a 10 day workshop on furniture design at

L`Ecole d`Art Visuel de la Martinique (Martinique)
2007 First Place Planeta Casa-Casa Claudia (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
2006 Selected for International Design Biennial (Saint-Etienne, France)
2004 Selected for International Design Biennial (Saint-Etienne, France)
2004 Honorable Mention for the Valansi-Museu de Cadeira award (Rio de Janiero, Brazil)
2004 Second Place Prize Liceu de Design (Bahia, Brazil)
2003 Honorable Mention Prêmio RioDesign (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
2003 First Place Premio Plasticidade DESIGN+PLASTICO (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
2002 First Place Student Prize Liceu de Design (Bahia, Brazil)


2009 NOHO Modern (Los Angeles, California)

2007 Mercado Moderno (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)


2009 Brasil e Cosi (Milan, Italy)

2009 Casa Cor (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
2008 Casa Cor (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
2007 Casa Cor (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
2006 Morar Mais por Menos (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
2004 – 2005 Morar Mais por Menos (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
2004 Master CASA (Niteroi, Brazil))
2003 Abimovel (Sao Paolo, Brazil)
2003 ARTE DESIGN (Curitiba, Brazil)
2003 DesignBrasil (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)



Essays by NOHO Modern Owners Thomas Hayes and Jeremy Petty 

It would be impossible for me to write about Zanini de Zanine in an impartial or unaffected way. After seeing just two black and white photographs of Jose Zanine Caldas's work three years ago, I traveled to Rio de Janeiro to learn about Brazilian design, as I was drawn to its materiality and craftsmanship. I had heard his son lived in Rio and through a friend who knew him as a child, we were introduced. His name is Zanini de Zanine, which means “Zanini, son of Zanine,” and true to his name, his father literally raised him to be a furniture designer from birth.

As the sons of our fathers, we all feel the weight of their accomplishments and expectations, and we derive our identity from either their influence or their absence. That weight has certainly defined my life, and I saw at once that this was also the case with Zanini. His father is lauded as one of the three masters of Brazilian modernist design (the other two being Joaquim Tenreiro and of course Sergio Rodrigues). Being born of him, named after him, and raised by him to be a furniture designer is a great gift, but Zanini’s struggle is not with this; he is at peace and ease with being an artist and designer. He has such profound respect for his father and his work that every decision in designing is aimed at two goals. The first is to respect the standards his father set about how to do things with the highest level of mastery, and the second is to create pieces markedly different from his father’s work, pieces that could never be confused with them. He feels, as I do, that his father’s work is completely unique and set apart from all who have followed, and Zanini himself does not wish to tarnish that. 

Unlike his father who had no official training, Zanini has a degree in Industrial Design from the Pontifíca Universidade Católica in Rio de Janeiro and has considerable technical ability as a result. He uses extremely heavy and dense exotic hardwoods such as Ipe and Pequi (the giant trees of the Amazon). Some of this wood is salvaged directly from the floor of the previously cleared rainforest, and the size of this wood dictates what can be relieved from it. Zanini sketches constantly on paper and directly on the wood itself with chalk as well. Though his work is organic, all of his pieces also have geometric elements, and his signature is burned directly into the wood in a geometric font. Witnessing Zanini’s process, and even at times being a part of it, has been deeply moving, and I’ve learned much from him about unwavering focus and commitment to one’s art.

This focus and drive was apparent the first time Zanini took me to his workshop, which is nestled in the foothills of great granite mountains in a small favella (Brazilian word for “ghetto” or “slum”) in Barra de Tijuca. When I walked into the small workshop, or "galpao" in Portuguese, I was overwhelmed. I had stumbled across something truly amazing despite its small size and seedy location. The tools they used were archaic; they spent months scraping away at the wood with very old tools and pieces of metal they sharpened themselves. This astonished me, as I work with wood most days and have the benefit of every modern tool at my disposal. 

It was clear that to actualize his grand plans for larger, more complex pieces, Zanini needed a much bigger workshop and huge milling tools. Thankfully, his father’s master craftsman for over 30 years, Reduzino Vieira, owned a little plot of land not 100 yards away that was ideal. I helped plan and build the new workshop and shared in Zanini and Reduzino’s excitement about a future there of designing and crafting massive, ambitious designs out of one of Brazil’s most beautiful and valuable resources. Zanini is blessed to have the support and guidance of 60-year-old Reduzino, who now supervises the production of all Zanini’s work and has been a close friend ever since Jose Zanine’s death in 2001. In his father’s absence, Reduzino provides a strong connection to his father’s legacy and unwavering standards. He brings an element of the spirit of Jose Zanine Caldas to every piece. Reduzino also spends time restoring the sprawling mansions Zanini's father built on the cliffs of Joatinga overlooking the ocean and Rio de Janeiro. This is also how Zanini acquires salvaged architectural lumber. Since Jose Zanine Caldas built his houses all out of salvaged materials as well, much of Zanini’s work is actually twice salvaged.

I believe success is not measured by profits or accolades. Instead it is the impact we have on others and how we help them achieve their dreams that have any lasting quantitative impact on our own success. I am privileged to have the opportunity to work with Zanini and curate his first show in the United States.

On a personal note, I want to thank my beautiful wife Tracy, who supported my many trips to Brazil. Without her support and love none of this would have been possible. You are my coracao. Josephine and Sophia, my little girls, you are the light of my life and my greatest accomplishment. You are with me every moment. Also I would like to thank Marcelo Vasconcellos, owner of Mercado Moderno in Rio de Janeiro. He has supported our efforts in Rio selflessly and helped overcome so many hurdles in attempting to do business in Brazil from afar. Both he and Zanini have become members of my family, and I love them both dearly as my brothers.  

Thomas M. Hayes 
With our first exhibition of paintings in 2003, and with shows in subsequent years, our gallery has shown its commitment to finding and exhibiting noteworthy talent that for some reason had gone overlooked or had received far too little attention.  For the most part, we have been fortunate to work with artists of "a certain age," who were able to enjoy a rebirth of sorts, thanks in part to our exhibition, and enjoy unexpected attention and success in their later years. With time our focus has broadened, as has our geographic reach.

In the last three years, NOHO Modern has sought to aggressively seek out and understand Brazilian modernist art and design. We have been fortunate, after much difficulty and many obstacles, to bring to the secondary market many fine examples of furniture and art from the 1940's to the present from this country. In doing so, I have gained a greater understanding of Brazilian design while realizing that, as with the study of most subjects, the more I learn, the more I don't know. My understanding of many things Brazilian took a giant leap upon meeting Zanini de Zanine Caldas in 2006. This unexpected encounter with Zanini led me to realize that I had run smack dab into the very essence of everything that Brazil, design history, ecological consciousness, and expert artisanship embodied. I also knew that we had to find a way to lug all this massively heavy wood furniture to Los Angeles and somehow put together an exhibition. It has taken a little more than two years, but the journey has been satisfying and I hope that you will marvel with us at the daunting artistry of his furniture and sculptures. 
We met Zanini thanks to the graciousness and thoughtfulness of the artist Joao Machado and his mother Eliane Carvalho. Joao was acquainted with Zanini from adolescent years spent in Paris, and the two shared an artistic heritage from their fathers. Zanini's path led him to assess his own desire to create from the same materials as his father, Jose Zanine Caldas, a process fraught with heartache and soul-searching. I think that he had a hard time reconciling his beloved father's stellar reputation as an architect and artisan in Brazil and France with his own to continue working with the same materials. A long process of design education, often at the hands of Brazilian masters like Sergio Rodrigues, and many years of work and introspection led him back to working in the same way as his father. His eye and resolve are now clear. His style is his own.  

Zanini shares a love of his native land with his father, and his desire to preserve it grew out of a childhood spent with his father in Bahia in ateliers with native Brazilians trained in carving canoes. The two share a skilled hand and tremendous eye, but Zanini has chosen a more precise and sculpted approach to many of his designs. He is careful not to suffocate the original form of the material, but unlike certain designers, he is not afraid to find the soul of the chair or table in a chunk of wood. Zanini is able to take a piece of wood, pare it down and fashion a functional piece of furniture while preserving the grace and beauty of the original material.
A similar passion had led Zanini's father, after whom he is named, to design roughly 400 residential and commercial projects in Brazil and furnish a good many of them, all with wood salvaged mainly from old homes and rivers surrounding old logging sites. Zanine, as his father is known, was well-respected in Brazil despite a lack of formal architectural training. His prowess as a builder of architectural maquettes early on made him the go-to guy for the likes of Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa. He was revolutionary in his approach to furniture-making, as he took on the ideal of making ecologically responsible furniture before there was really even a term for such a thing. But the fact that it is "ecologically responsible" takes a backseat to the beauty of his formidable designs.  

Although Zanine traveled worldwide, he seldom came to the U.S. and never completed any projects here, which perhaps helps to explain the lack of attention to his work here; the French, however, have taken great note. He was honored with a retrospective in 1989 at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs next to the Louvre. As I pored over materials in the extensive museum library in Paris last year, I was exhilarated to find many examples of furniture and sculpture that must have greatly influenced young Zanini. All of his formative training later on only served to bring him back to the roots, discarded trunks and branches of his youth. Yes, there has been innovation since his father was active as a designer, but in the late 60's, it was the elder Zanine who realized that the innovations of his time would not suffice, and was led to native canoe carvers in Bahia. Their techniques had been honed over hundreds of years, and Zanini continues to benefit from their influence today. 

I am overwhelmed by the scale of Zanini's furniture, as well as the number of pieces that he has been able to produce for this exhibition. I am also grateful that he listened to us and had faith that the two American art dealers from Los Angeles weren't just talking big. It might have seemed to him at times that this would never happen, but he has shown steadiness and patience throughout. His work ethic is tremendous and it has never waned. I hope that our efforts will be worthy of him and his works. 

Jeremy Petty