By Lindenberg Junior
From the love of land and people of Brazil, to the chance to help her homeland’s artisans preserve he rain forest, an architect and designer from Rio de Janeiro, has found a way to blend commerce and eco-social responsibilities.
Andrea Fonseca, Brazil Baroque owner, in Santa Barbara, has partnered with Brazilians artisans to develop handmade furnishings. She transforms wood used over hundred years ago in walls, floors,and ceilings into magnificent pieces of furniture, while conserving and avoiding the laste of this rare material. She is committed to preserving Brazil’s rainforest by only using recycled antique hardwood, which will be sustainable for generations to come.
The Baroque style emerged from Italy during the 17th century and was brought to Brazil about a hundred years later. Brazilian interpretations made during the 18th and 19th centuries from European design were fashioned out of cedro (rosewood), from the Amazon, Jatoba (cherry), and Imbuia (walnut).
In 1998, after studying fine arts and architecture in Brazil, Andrea moved to California to pursue a master degree from Art Center in Pasadena, and later moved to Santa Barbara to study English at the SB City College. Since February 2002, she has been importing Brazilian hardwood tables, chests, armoires and a variety of accessories, both old and new, from her homeland. The furniture designed by her is made of hardwood recycled from decrepit and long-abandoned houses found in many of Brazil’s colonial villages.
Her business, named for the baroque influenced design in that country when it was colonized by the Portuguese in the 19th century, has another exciting aspect that includes the Brazilian antiques Fonseca. She searches these rare Colonial pieces out: armoires from Northern Brazil (reflect the Afro-Brazilian design influences), religious artifacts including eighteenth and nineteenth century “Santos” (painted wooden carvings of saints used in homes altars throughout the centuries), and even unique examples of plantation life, such as cheese molding and bread making.
She also searches for recycled architectural elements for architects and designers including rustic doors, flooring, window frames, and others elements savaged from haciendas slated for demolishment.
“My favorite part of the business is working with the artisans, who do it with so much love. Like me, this job is about passion and desire”. In addition she noted “These people can not make a good living in my country. It is my pleasure to support the talented artisans, sharing my passion for Brazilian furniture and antiques with the rest of the world, and maybe to be a model for other business with my environmental efforts that included using sturdy recycled hardwoods in the production of my pieces”.
Andrea Fonseca is a charming, charismatic, and genuinely sincere blonde Brazilian woman; that with her ecologic and social vision has increasing demands for large custom orders from designers and architects. As results after 3 years in business, she is closing the warehouse as retail outlet, and focusing in wholesale business. According to Ms. Fonseca, Brazil Baroque furnishings are already carried by a number of authorized dealers, mostly in the Los Angeles area. She proudly points out that the company’s recycling efforts, though painstaking and time-consuming, are appreciated by clients. – www.brazilbaroquefurniture.com