Five Days of Frame 118: Guilherme Wentz, in search of Brazil’s design identity

Amsterdam – In the latest issue of Frame magazine, we explore the issue of sustainability in the context of Brazilian product design. Today, we dig deeper with Guilherme Wentz in this online-exclusive interview. Wentz was one of the six Brazilian designers featured in our latest issue who are readdressing the nation’s natural resources.

How would you describe your approach to product design?
GUILHERME WENTZ: I was driven to design by a desire to live in a simpler, yet disruptive, way, so I think that’s how I approach my products. I’ve always worked with the industry, and it’s a big challenge to reinvent the so-called ‘right way’ of making products.

It probably sounds cliché, but my process is about simplicity and subtraction. Even though this is nothing new, I think there are different ways of approaching these themes. I’m looking for my own method – adding new layers of meaning and emotion to products.

Three Corda luminaires – each comprising electrical cable wrapped around a glass sphere – are suspended above a Folha table. 

What similarities and differences do you think your process has from those of your fellow Brazilian designers?
In general, I think Brazilian design is stuck in some concepts and processes, such as mid-century modernism, woodcraft, and the desperate need to belong to a Brazilian label. In my opinion, we should lose the mindset of discussing style in terms of a geographic location. Maybe then we’d reach a common ground. 

I hope that by thinking globally, by having a different design approach to local references and by steering away from old Brazilian labels, my work will be different.

Tela – Guilherme Wentz’s take on Brazil’s ‘lower, more relaxed furniture aesthetic’ – uses fabric made from recycled cotton and PET. A Tombo lamp is on the right. 

Where do you see the product design industry headed, both at home and abroad, and how do you feel your work fits into that progression?
Right now I can say that the Brazilian furniture industry is opening up to designers – and vice versa. We have a history of making low-tech, expensive design objects that most often don’t meet either local or international demands. I feel like there’s been a huge shift in the last few years – even with the political and economic crises – and that both sides are now starting to get along.

I’ve been working with some local companies to rethink product strategies and to add design culture to the factories. I believe contemporary Brazilian designers should feel a sense of responsibility to drive this big change, which might help us reach an international standard.

Connectivity in today’s world has made it possible for new designers and small businesses to have a voice. I believe that the plurality of ideas and channels to show/commercialize them is leading to an interesting time in which the market doesn’t concentrate only on big brands or leading design countries.

Wentz’s ‘constant search for lightness in difference forms’ led to the Vidro table, a product that sees glass take the leading role.

What are you currently working on?
Last year I launched my own brand to produce and distribute my studio’s signature projects; I’m now working on the third collection, which will launch next year. I also have ongoing work within some Brazilian companies, addressing strategy and art direction alongside product design. Besides the decorative home products that I typically work on, I’m also developing some interesting projects such as door handles and retail spaces, which are pushing me to think about different scales and processes. I also presented a new limited-edition collection at ArtRio in September.

guilhermewentz.com

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Frame 118

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