Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer inspires New H.Stern jewelry collection

Oscar Niemeyer, 103, is Brazil’s most famous architect. Considered one of the most influential names in international modern architecture, he is responsible for the project of Brasilia, the country’s capital constructed in the late 50’s, and many other iconic buildings including UN’s headquarters in New York, a collaboration with French master Le Corbusier.

Curves have been his passion over the course of a lifetime. They define the architect’s own style: the lightness of the curved forms that create spaces full of harmony, grace and elegance.

The H.Stern by Oscar Niemeyer Collection is the initiative of Roberto Stern, president and creative director of H.Stern, who has always given special emphasis to organic and sinuous forms in jewelry.

“We do not find straight lines in nature, therefore I like asymmetry and irregular contours, which are more human and natural,” said Stern. It was this shared passion with the architect that led Stern to launch   the collection.

For the first time, Niemeyer personally approved a collection of jewelry created in his honor, and based on his own sketches, his curved lines. Several of the designs include pieces inspired by the female form.

“The jewels are extremely pretty and very light. It’s incredible how they have managed to exactly replicate my designs,” the architect said. “The people who made these jewels are very talented!”

The jewelry designers sought inspiration not in the final form of Niemeyer’s revered creations, already widespread, but in their primary element: the apparently unpretentious outlines and contours which are transformed into architectural works like those in Brasília; Pampulha, an architectural project in Minas Gerais state; the Copan building, in São Paulo; and the surprising Museum of Contemporary Art in Niterói, considered one of his finest works.

Niemeyer appears to bend straight lines in his concrete structures, transforming curves into a natural solution for his creations. H.Stern does the same with gold and diamonds. Besides the curving contours, empty spaces—so prized by the architect in his concrete sculptures—are also reflected in the jewelry. Rings, bracelets and earrings emphasize simple lines, interspersed with empty spaces.

The H.Stern Collection by Oscar Niemeyer includes jewelry in gold and diamonds, composed of six different lines and named for some of his works and famous projects. They convey the simplicity of the outlines, which are captured in a few, essential lines: loose, free and flowing.

Below are the six lines that make up the collection:

Copan bracelet, in yellow gold

Copan building, in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil

Copan—One of the icons of the famous concrete poetry of the capital São Paulo, the Copan building has hovered like a wave on the horizon of the metropolis since the 1950s, contrasting with the straight angles that predominate in the local architecture. It was the wavy, striking design that was the inspiration behind the Copan jewelry collection, with rings in wavy forms and a voluminous yellow gold bracelet.

Brasília—The architecture of the city of Brasilia, glimpsed in the sketches submitted by Lucio Costa for the international design contest for the new capital of Brazil, was the result of Oscar Niemeyer’s definitive influence. The concave and convex domes of the National Congress and the columns of the Alvorada and Planalto Palaces and the Supreme Court are highly original features. Combining these with the spectacular forms of the columns of the Cathedral and the palaces of Itamaraty and Justica, Niemeyer succeeded in closing the rectangular and symmetrical perspective formed by the repetition of the Esplanada and Ministry buildings.

The concave and convex domes that epitomize the building of the National Congress gave form to an yellow gold bracelet, in which continuous lines and empty spaces encircle the female wrist in a light, sensual way. The jewel reconstructs Niemeyer’s proposal when he planned, in 1958, what was to become one of the most beautiful scenes of the federal capital and one of his 35 works to be listed by the Historical Heritage of the country. Besides the bracelet, there are also earrings in which opposite curves join at the tips, with singular lightness.

Pampulha—The inspiration for this line comes from the sinuous design of the roof of the São Francisco de Assis church in Pampulha, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. The project was created by Niemeyer in the 1940s, at the request of Juscelino Kubitschek, then mayor of the city who would later become President of Brazil. The structure was highly controversial due to its bold forms. Niemeyer said, “I covered it with curves, all kinds of curves, as a statement against the architecture characterized by straight lines that predominated up until then.”

The wavy design of this emblematic work was reproduced by H.Stern in rings, earrings and bracelets in white gold and diamonds.

PAMPULHA bracelet in white and diamonds

Pampulha Church, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Sketch—Amid the iconic designs of the Pampulha and the National Congress of Brasília, the wall of Niemeyer’s office displays an intriguing design. Two curved, perpendicular lines appear to form the sketch for one of the consistently bold columns of his buildings. Who has seen the arched columns of the Cathedral of Brasília or the Palácio do Planalto? Or, perhaps, the profile of one of the dish-like domes which he transforms into functional buildings. Or it may be an unpretentious drawing that has not been transformed into works of concrete.

Sketch earrings in yellow gold

 National Congress buildings, in Brasília, the capital city of Brazil

This sketch of extreme simplicity was interpreted by H.Stern in a pair of earrings—in white gold and diamonds—in which the metal line folds between the frontal part and behind the earlobe.

Curves—“If the straight line is the shortest route between two points, the curve is what makes concrete search for the infinite,” said Niemeyer, explaining his preference for fluid, sinuous lines. Curves baptize this line of jewelry with rings and earrings. In the earrings, the strands form wavy layers, one on top of the other. The design explores one of the principle elements of architecture: perspective. The visual impression given differs depending from which the jewelry is viewed.

CURVES Ring in white gold and diamonds

Flower—Niemeyer’s work also includes sketches of singular beauty, like one of a hand holding a flower with four leaves. A single line of form and image, reminiscent of a child’s drawings in its simplicity. This drawing provided the inspiration for pendants and bracelet in yellow gold which represent the flower, closely following the spontaneous vision of the architect and designer.

The gold flowers are hollow, in reference to Niemeyer’s appreciation for unfilled areas. “Architecture is about overcoming spaces… I cannot understand those who are afraid of open spaces. Space is part of architecture.” It is also part of the jewelry.

Brazilian musicians Carlinhos Brown and George Israel have also composed a song to honor the launch of the H.Stern by Oscar Niemeyer Collection. “Linhameyer” (a blending of Niemeyer’s name with the word Linha—“line” in Portuguese)  speaks of the sinuous lines in the architect’s drawings.

H. STERN
645 Fifth Avenue at 52nd Street
New York, New York 10022
212-688-0300
800-747-8376
www.hstern.net

The Giant Is No Longer Asleep

In new spot, giant arises from scenic Sugar Loaf Mountain

After years of hearing Brazil referred to as a sleeping giant, Diageo’s Johnnie Walker is appealing to the fast-growing market with a blockbuster spot recognizing Brazil as a colossus that has finally awakened. In “Rock Giant,” the colossus emerges from Rio de Janeiro’s scenic Sugar Loaf mountain landmark.

“We lived with the image of having a lot of potential but not really taking advantage of all the wonderful resources we had,” said Alexandre Gama, president and chief creative officer of Neogama/BBH, the Sao Paulo office of Johnnie Walker’s global agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty. “[People used to say] Brazil is the country of the future, and always will be. We don’t accept that any more.”

In the spot, which broke Friday evening on Facebookand on Brazilian TV on Sunday, the earth cracks and boulders fly as Rio residents watch a giant arise from the famous rock formation. He carefully sets down the cable car that runs along Sugar Loaf Mountain and stands tall. As he takes his first steps, the words “The giant is no longer asleep” appear in Portuguese, before the campaign’s familiar “Keep Walking” global tagline, tweaked to read “Keep Walking, Brazil.”

Mr. Gama said the campaign came about after David Gates, global category director for Diageo’s whiskey brands, visited Brazil early last year and wanted to meet Mr. Gama. During their meeting in the hotel lobby, Mr. Gates, who was previously Diageo Asia’s marketing director, said he felt the kind of momentum was happening in Brazil that he had witnessed earlier in China. He said that opened the possibility to create a campaign that would tap into this change in a very Brazilian way. Diageo is also experiencing Brazil’s momentum first hand, as Johnnie Walker’s fastest-growing market with a 30% annual increase in sales volume.

On his way to Rio’s downtown airport one day to catch the shuttle back to Sao Paulo after a client meeting, Mr. Gama glimpsed Sugar Loaf Mountain, and the idea was born. He said it was important that the message about the sleeping giant awakening was delivered by a non-Brazilian entity like an international brand, so the tagline “Keep Walking, Brazil” spelled the country’s name with a ‘z’ rather than using the Portuguese spelling, Brasil.

Mr. Gama said the spot had more than 187,000 views on YouTube by Sunday night. He helped the spot go viral by sending it to his friend Luciano Huck, a popular Brazilian TV host who has more than three million Twitter followers and tweeted about the spot. The agency also bought a full-page ad in the form of a false cover run by one of Sao Paulo’s leading daily newspapers, Folha de Sao Paulo, with “Sugar Loaf Mountain was part of a giant” as the lead story.

The complex production employed 420 people.

“The challenge was how to make someone covered by birds, trees and rocks look powerful,” he said. “That was the biggest problem.”

The spot, directed by Gorgeous with post-production and composition of the giant by The Mill, required special software to be written enabling the trees to react to the movements of a giant more than a mile high. [ Source : AdAge ]

Spin that magazine, Mr. DJ!

Nice work by the Sao Paulo based ad agency F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi. Talking about the world’s most innovative magazine ads, here’s another interesting one—an audio print ad for Brazil’s Skol Sensation music festival, wrapped around the spine ofPlayboy magazine. A mini-chip was inserted in the ad, allowing users to listen to an audio message whispered by a young woman, says Adverblog.

Inside Brazil’s Booming Fashion Industry

Downtown São Paulo Cityscape (Source : Superfuture)

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — You hear about it at dinner parties and fashion events. It’s been the subject of countless magazine stories and news reports. Something special is going on in Brazil. And today, the momentum has nothing to with cultural clichés like soccer and samba. Brazil is claiming its place on the global stage and interestingly, fashion is playing a major role in the country’s ascendence.

Significantly, the tremendous energy in Brazil’s fashion market is flowing from both inside and outside the country. For global fashion brands, Brazil is a land of opportunity. Just this year, Diane von Furstenberg, Missoni, Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Burberry have made, or are making, large investments here, opening stores in major urban centres — mostly in São Paulo, but also in the capital city Brasília, a fast-emerging market for luxury goods. Indeed, a spokesperson for Gucci told that in 2009, their São Paulo boutique was one of the brand’s top performing stores worldwide.

But the signs of growth are equally impressive on the domestic front: amongst the so-called BRIC countries, Brazil is the only one with a major fashion industry of its own. There are countless Brazilian ready-to-wear and accessory brands which have been highly successful with domestic consumers and are now setting their sights outside Brazil.

Indeed, after seeing Brazilian high-end boutiques and malls packed with customers who are actually spending, witnessing the creative energy and optimism at São Paulo Fashion Week, and speaking with several leading industry figures, there is no doubting it: Brazil is on fire.

But it’s also clear that the current boom has not happened overnight. Instead, Brazil’s rise as an important fashion market results from a complex set of interconnected conditions, many of which have been a long time in the making.

A Booming Economy

Undeniably, the primary force driving the current surge in the Brazilian fashion market is a healthy macroeconomic context. Brazil’s economy has been expanding steadily for years, a result of a stable political and social climate and long-term reforms set in place by the current and previous government administrations.

As much of the world slid into severe recession in late 2008, Brazil continued to expand. Indeed, according to Brazil’s national statistics agency, GDP grew a record 9 percent in the first quarter 0f 2010.

Amongst Brazil’s more than 190 million inhabitants, there have also been important demographic shifts. The distribution of wealth is changing: large swaths of the population have joined the middle and upper-middle classes. There has also been significant migration into urban areas. And despite reports in Women’s Wear Daily and elsewhere that growth may slow in coming years, the numbers are expected to remain promising enough to continue to fuel domestic demand and attract international brands.

National Optimism

The robust economy has, in turn, fed the country’s self-confidence. Whether at São Paulo Fashion Week, in the streets, or in the nation’s shopping malls, there is a palpable optimism in the air: Brazil believes in itself.

This hasn’t always been the case. When queried on the main factor behind her country’s current optimism, Erika Palomino, arguably the best-known fashion journalist in Brazil, pointed out that a new-found “self-esteem” is as important as the positive numbers: “Because we were a colony, for a long time we didn’t believe in ourselves and always looked abroad, thinking other countries did things better. That has changed.” Indeed, winning bids to host both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics have had a major impact in boosting the country’s sense of confidence.

The Advantages of Insularity: A Strong Domestic Market

Brazil’s growing national pride, combined with the country’s relative geographic isolation, has had a positive effect on the country’s domestic fashion market. Sara Andrade, the influential fashion editor of Vogue Portugal, thinks Brazil’s self-reliance is one of the country’s greatest assets.

This plays out in the shopping malls, as well. Indeed, Brazilian consumers seem to bet on their own designers, as much as they do on foreign brands. Even those who can afford to buy from big European houses like Prada or Valentino, deliberately seek out Brazilian designers.

Because of strong and sustained internal demand, domestic fashion businesses that have been around for 5-10 years are now reaching a certain maturation point, expanding their reach with diffusion lines and new stores. Oskar Metsavaht’s wildly successful label Osklen is a good case in point.

Osklen offers well-made directional design that is wearable and thereby accessible to a wide audience. And even though it’s far from inexpensive (an Osklen t-shirt can cost 700 Reais, or almost US$400, while dresses and signature pieces often run much higher), the label’s clothes are still more affordable than foreign fashion, due in part to Brazil’s extremely high import duties. Indeed, to gauge the company’s success it’s enough to look down: everyone in São Paulo seems to be wearing Osklen shoes, easily recognizable by a stripe on their sole.

Osklen and other local labels are able to produce their goods using mostly domestic materials, which is not that surprising considering Brazil’s abundant natural resources, another factor that reinforces the country’s relative autonomy from external economies.

While it would be a stretch to say that self-reliance made Brazil immune to the effects of the global recession, it’s true that the country was far less affected by the financial crisis than other major countries in the global system. Indeed, while people in most nations were forced to consume less, middle and upper-class Brazilians held onto their buying power and consumption habits.

The Price Gap Effect

Andrade pointed out another interesting feature of Brazil’s domestic market: “Unlike [in] Europe or the US, where there are many high-street options like Zara and Mango, in Brazil most brands fall into two extremes: they have very low-profile brands like C&A, where you can get things of rather low quality at a really cheap price and, on the other end: designer brands, like Maria Bonita and smaller independent labels that offer good quality and design at a high price point.” What this means is that the consumer who wants good design — and that is the majority of middle and upper class Brazilians — has little choice but to buy from designers brands. In a way, the lack of affordable fashion options has forced consumers to spend on, and thereby support, serious domestic fashion labels.

The Cultural Advantage

Fashion also has a special place in Brazilian culture. It’s something of a national pastime and a topic of everyday household conversation, not just a luxury of the urban, privileged classes. Brazilians have also long had an appreciation for aesthetics and quality.

Richard Barczinski is the Director of Hermès and a luxury retail veteran — before joining Hermès, he was the CEO of jewelery juggernaut H. Stern. His work frequently takes him to Russia and China, giving him a unique vantage point from which to compare Brazil to other emerging countries. “In terms of potential, China maybe the champion because it is experiencing such tremendous growth and has such a huge population, but culturally Brazil may have an advantage because the consumer here is highly sophisticated and informed. People here appreciate not just the value of something expensive, but the value and pleasure of good design and materials.”

Other brands seem to agree. In a brief statement issued for this piece, a spokesperson for Gucci singled out the Brazilian customer’s “deep knowledge of hides” as an asset for the brand: “The more precious and exotic the hides, the more they are appreciated.”

Commenting exclusively for BoF, Eliana Tranchesi, owner and president of legendary Sao Paulo department store Daslu, confirmed that in Brazil “brands can spare the effort of building knowledge regarding new collections, style, product launches. As collections arrive to national stores, they already have an enthusiastic client base.”

A more informed customer is also a more demanding customer. In Tranchesi’s words, “today, the Brazilian customer knows exactly how much they are willing to pay for an item, how much it is really worth and the quality they expect to access in return for any investment in fashion.”

Remaining Barriers

None of this means that international luxury brands do not face hurdles in Brazil. Clearly, structural changes are still necessary for the country to become a truly friendly environment for foreign fashion businesses. The main obstacle is Brazil’s exorbitant import duty that keeps most foreign luxury goods out of reach of all but the wealthiest consumers. Indeed, a thorough review of the country’s outdated tax structure is in order. Paulo Borges, president of Luminosidade, the company that produces São Paulo Fashion Week, adds that laws governing labour and pensions also need updating: “Brazil is at a very good place politically and economically, but these changes are necessary to enable the further development of the creative and design industries.”

But while challenges exist, there is little doubt that this is a tremendously exciting moment for fashion in Brazil.

Source : BoF

The New Brazil in New York

Made Creatively in Brazil™

Lucas Compan, a Brazilian creative entrepreneur, tells us about the new Brazil, and about Nin9 Branding, the first Brazilian-American branding agency on Earth, headquartered in New York City – with an office in São Paulo. He was interviewed by LatinVision Media Inc, a New York-based company that operates business portals targeting U.S. Hispanic and Latin American entrepreneurs, business owners, executives and professionals in small and medium-sized companies. LatinVision works closely to NYC’s Latin Media and Entertainment Commission, that advises the Mayor on business development and retention strategies for the Latin media and entertainment industry.

There is a new Brazil down there, an emerging global power with a huge cultural content to share. Brazil, with a population of 192m and growing fast, could be one of the world’s five biggest economies by 2025, along with China, America, India and Japan.

Lucas is willing to bring to New York City – and to the USA – this new Brazil. A Brazil that is much more than just samba, caipirinha, and toucans — although these are strong Brazilian icons. Stereotyped attractions, like Carnaval and soccer, are no longer the only source of inspiration – more and more people and places that represent the authentic Brazilian culture are writing their histories in different places in New York City — integrated to music halls, bars, cultural centers, companies, and brands. That is the new Brazil Lucas Compan and Nin9 Branding are willing to represent. That is why he is one of the new emerging Brazilian leaderships in New York City.

Enjoy his interview in English or in Spanish

Nin9 Branding™

Seu Jorge + Almaz @ Terminal 5

Details  | Location : Terminal 5 ( New York City )  |  Date : Friday 7/30  |  Notes : All ages  |  Doors: 7:00 PM / Show: 8:00 PM  |  $40 advance / $45 day of show  |

Brazilian musician and actor Seu Jorge has often taken the road less traveled, even when most other people in his shoes would choose an easier path of instant gratification. Fans of the cult classic film City of God will recognize Jorge for his portrayal of the character Knockout Ned. Sadly, Jorge holds something in common with the fictional Ned — street violence killed his brother.

But instead of turning to revenge as Ned did, Jorge chose a more positive path. While still running the streets, he learned to play guitar and harness his vocal chops, and in turn became one of the most revered Brazilian musicians of the past decade.

Born Jorge Mario da Silva in the favela Belford Roxo of Rio de Janeiro, the 40-year-old singer has released four solo albums. They range in sound from the soulful samba of his first LP,Samba Esporte Fino, to the acoustic rock of Cru, to the critically acclaimed Portuguese David Bowie covers on the soundtrack to The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. (Jorge also portrayed the guitar-playing deckhand, Pele dos Santos, in the film.)

However, it’s his latest record, Seu Jorge & Almaz, that brings him to Terminal 5 – in New York City – and on this Friday, July 23, to the Fillmore Miami Beach on the first stop of his summer tour. The album takes yet another musical tack, although again it tackles covers. The 12 tracks rework songs by Brazilian mainstays such as Jorge Ben and Noriel Vilela as well as artists including Michael JacksonKraftwerk, and Roy Ayers.

Jorge adds his unique gravelly voice to the psychedelic stylings of Almaz, a loosely formed group made up of drummer Pupillo and guitarist Lucio Maia — originally of the band Nação Zumbi — along with bassist/composer Antonio Pinto. “This is the music we love, the music we grew up on,” Jorge explains. “We didn’t worry about the lyrics; we just made the music having fun.”

Produced by Beastie Boys engineer and longtime friend Mario C. (Mario Caldato Jr) and released on Stonesthrow subsidiary Now-Again, Seu Jorge & Almaz seems to be another new introduction to Jorge for music lovers worldwide. The crowd-pleasing scope of the project wasn’t intentional at the outset, though. “We all had come together to record a song for Walter Salles’s film Linha de Passé and had such a good time, so we recorded more music, maybe 16 or 17 songs right after, which became the album,” Jorge says. “We want to show that Brazilian music is more open, not just drums and bass.”

On the album’s first single, a take on the Roy Ayers classic “Everybody Loves the Sunshine,” the group hits a home run with Jorge’s dark, laid-back vocals riding spacey synths and electric strings that bring to mind a hazy, late-summer Rio afternoon. The B-side, a cover of Martinho da Vila and João de Aquino’s “Cirandar,” is a more stripped-down samba groove met with well-placed psychedelic effects and cuica sounds.

Each track on the album seems to represent a different influence of the group, with the result a fresh, unmistakably Brazilian-rooted interpretation. “Growing up with music in Brazil — especially black people — everybody grew up with American music: Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Chic,” Jorge recalls. “Most of the people, especially the poor people, don’t get an opportunity to read a book, and the music replaces this. Music is very important in Brazil. Samba, it’s like a food for us.”

He is quick to reference Brazilian artists including Caetano Veloso, João Gilberto, and Gilberto Gil as influences, but looming above them all, for Jorge, is the late King of Pop. “To be honest, my big, big idol is Michael Jackson because he’s done so many things: singing, acting, dancing,” he says. “I never imagined I could make music and act at the same time, but now I have the opportunity, and I would like to thank Michael and other American artists like Gene Kelly for the inspiration.”

The inspiration really struck some 20 years ago, during a sad time in his life. After his brother was killed, his mother had to sell his home to raise money to survive, and Jorge found himself on the street. He picked up the guitar and soon was playing anyplace that would have him, even for free. “Music was fun — emotions, talking about the city, the people. It was never about the money,” he says. “I still have the same feelings now.”

With his first band, Farofa Carioca, Jorge wrote most of the music for the group’s debut album, 1998’s Moro no Brasil (I Live in Brazil), and subsequently appeared in a Brazilian music documentary by the same name. This led to his introduction to the film industry after a few years in musical theater, and eventually that breakout role as the cool bus-driver-turned-avenging-brother in City of God. Since then, Jorge has gone on to play roles in a handful of movies, including the British prison break feature The Escapist, and Casa de Areia, a film about white Portuguese settlers who try to move in on a “quilombo”— a runaway slave community in which Jorge plays the quilombo’s leader.

As the conversation switches back to Brazil, Jorge’s tone becomes noticeably more excited, speaking about the upcoming presidential election, Summer Olympics in Rio in 2016, and his country hosting the World Cup in 2014. “Brazil is one of the best countries in the world. The food, the people, the samba,” he says. “If they don’t know, the rest of the world needs to see!”

Sources: Bernard Hacker, Terminal 5, blog Seu Jorge

What About Brazilian Brands?

Find out which Brazilian brands rank in the top 25 and read about the challenges and opportunities that all Brazilian brands face as they go global.