Five Brazilian artists and artist groups were asked to design a polyhedron made of SaphirKeramik by Laufen: this is the motif of the SHN collective from São Paulo.

From Basel to Brazil

Bathroom ceramics manufacturer Laufen provides proof of the direct connection between art, design and craft with this project.
by Markus Hieke | 6/28/2019

It is a well-recognized fact that design cannot exist without art. Design “inherits” basic creative principles from art. That said, art occasionally – if involuntarily – also turns decorative use object. The collaboration “Impressões” between Laufen and Basel art institution Brasilea Foundation sees design provide the surface to five individual art works that impressively showcase the connection to craft. Five Brazilian artists or artist groups have created artistic objects which each tell stories about their day-to-day lives in their home country of Brazil.

Brasilea was launched in 2003 and is dedicated to artistic and cultural exchange between Brazil and Switzerland – the name is an allusion to “Basilea,” the Latin term for Basel, and of course to Brazil. The starting point for Brasilea was the legacy of Walter Wüthrich, a Swiss art collector, who in 1939 left Basel and boarded a boat to Rio de Janeiro, where he lived until his death. In the form of the Brasilea Foundation his collection found a fixed abode directly on the banks of the river Rhine in a former marine engine workshop. It is here that the five ceramic objects from the current edition of “Impressões” by Laufen and Brasilea are being presented: The collaboration is founded on and draws its enthusiasm from a long-standing liaison with Brazil. And so the lively nature of Brazilian art is combined with Swiss technological savoir faire.

Laufen itself also maintains a good relationship with Brazil: The company was running factories in the South American country as early as the 1950s. This constituted a new strategy for the corporation and Laufen’s first encounter with the emerging Modern architecture of Brazil, which was experiencing an early heyday back then. Laufen was also one of the first companies to bring its ideas of social standards concerning things such as employee’s accommodation, training and works canteens with it to Brazil from Switzerland. The brand’s good reputation was founded during this idealistic pioneering era: Laufen is still very prestigious in Brazil. Reason enough for the company to continue in this lineage and champion Brazilian art.

Perfect platform at the interface between art and design: In early June 2019 Laufen also exhibited the “Impressões​” at Design Miami/Basel.

The canvas for the art works is provided by a polyhedron made of SaphirKeramik by Laufen and designed by Geneva-based Brazilian sculptor Maria-Carmen Perlingeiro. Perlingeiro tapped into the unique advantages of SaphirKeramik when creating the sculpture, which allowed her to include tight radiuses, delicate edges and thin walls with a high degree of stability thanks to the material. For the five art works printed foils were then applied to the objects, sealed by ceramic glaze in a further burning process. The objects are more robust than they appear and can thus also be used as stools or occasional tables.

The themes of the “Impressões” developed by art foundation Brasilea in collaboration with the artists are as diverse as the artistic personalities themselves: While Maria-Carmen Perlingeiro, who usually works with golden graphics on alabaster panels, merely dips the triangles of her polyhedrons in gold, Berlin-based artist Alex Flemming covers his SaphirKeramik volume entirely with a photorealistic print. Graffiti artist Zezão looks at the complex waste-water system and thus the underworld of São Paulo in his piece – the world where he usually creates his sprayed artworks. Christina Oiticica turns hallucinatory images inspired by Brazilian alternative medicine into poetic graphics. And the SHN collective, made up of the three street artists Eduardo Saretta, Haroldo Paranhos and Marcelo Fazolin and known for its large-scale screen-printed posters that adorn the urban landscape of São Paulo, place a fish theme around the edges of the polyhedron. In doing so they allude to an old Basel law that in order to protect the River Rhine from overfishing made it illegal to serve one’s servants fish every day. What sounds like a restriction was in actual fact a blessing – because it finally brought more variety to the servants’ meager diet.

Exhibition view: “Impressões​” at the Brasilea Foundation with the work of Alex Flemming

It is these stories that make the collaboration between Laufen and Brasilea Foundation such a success. The exhibition “Impressões 2018:19 – From Basel to Brasil” at Brasilea Foundation will continue to show the artists’ works until August 29, 2019. For Laufen it is the third proof after “Brazil up Close” (Edition 1, 2013) and “Brazil: Verse and Reverse” (Edition 2, 2015) that art, design and trendsetting craftsmanship go hand in hand.

Impressões 2018:19

Brasilea Foundation
Westquaistr. 39
CH – 4019 Basel
until 29 August 2019

Opening Hours
Wed.: 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Thu.: 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Fri.: 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
And on appointment

Maria-Carmen Perlingeiro has not only designed the surface of the SaphirKeramik sculpture, she also designed the polyhedron shape itself.