Sérgio Matos: “I owe my language to the Northeast and Paraíba”

Renowned designer comments on the region’s influence in his creations and the importance of democratizing art in João Pessoa, with the launch of Espaço Arte Brasil store

With a natural talent for turning Brazilian raw materials into art, Sérgio Matos, from Matosinhos, based in Paraíba, became one of the great references of design in Brazil and abroad. The artist insists on glorifying national identity in his creations, using the fauna and flora of Brazil and elements of popular culture as a source of inspiration in his creative processes.

Graduated in Product Design from the Federal University of Campina Grande (UFCG) in 2005, Sérgio also has a lot of cultural and affective baggage from the Northeast. “In short, the very beginning of the conception of the products we produced was inspired by Campina Grande and the region. I brought this a lot from Paraíba, and it really made a difference that I moved here. My work only grew with the vision I had here”, Matos looks back.

Currently, the designer maintains his professional studio in Campina Grande and continues to use elements of regional culture as inspiration for his creations. “We have recently launched pieces that are inspired by the mandacaru flowers. There is always something from the Northeast in them,” he reveals.

Recently the artist was in João Pessoa for the opening of Espaço Arte Brasil, in Liv Mall Shopping. In addition to the furniture signed by him – including the iconic Cobra Coral chair – the store also has works from other important references in Brazilian art, such as Miguel dos Santos, Flávio Tavares, Clóvis Júnior, Fred Svendsen, Raul Córdula and Chico Ferreira.

For the designer, Espaço Arte Brasil is a boost to Northeastern culture, an opportunity for new talent to launch and a celebration of accomplished artists from the Northeast. “An art shop is already something difficult to see, especially in a shopping center, and the local artist appreciates even more. And we are talking here about great artists and craftsmen who take Paraíba and the Northeast as their identity. That makes all the difference in a space like this,” he celebrates.

In the interview that follows, Sérgio comments on the impact of the opening of Espaço Arte Brasil for the democratization of art in João Pessoa, the influence of the Northeast on his creative process and his future projects.

The opening of Espaço Arte Brasil is a first step towards democratizing access to art in João Pessoa. How do you see this movement?

An art shop is already something difficult to see, especially in a shopping center, and even more value the local artist. And we are talking here about great artists and craftsmen who take Paraíba and the Northeast as their identity. That’s what I think makes the difference in a space like this. You have different types of artists such as furniture, lighting, sculptures and paintings by people who are just starting out and very talented or who have been established in the market for a long time.

How do you see a piece of you parading in this space for new talents and national names as well known as yours?

In fact, it is precisely for this reason that it is an honor to be a part of this space, because here are artists that I admire so much, such as Miguel dos Santos. I also know artisans I met years ago at the Feira de Artesanato de Campina Grande, who just started and now exhibit together with Miguel dos Santos, who is one of the greatest references for us. So it’s nice to be able to do this all-encompassing curatorship to bring someone starting out and the great artist into an environment where you can find different artistic manifestations in the same place. It is different for someone who does not know where the studios are and has to visit one by one if he wants to buy art, now you can find everything in one place. I think that’s fantastic!

The furniture has very striking features. What are you currently producing? What was your view on art today?

I think my language owes a lot to the northeast and Paraíba. In short, the very beginning of the design of the products we make is inspired by Campina Grande and the region. I think I take that a lot from Paraíba and it really made a difference that I moved here because my work only grew with the vision I had here. Even today, my studio is still located in Campina Grande and we continue to create new pieces, inspired by references from the region. We have recently released pieces that are inspired by mandacaru flowers. There’s always something from the northeast in there.

We also have launches in collaboration with big names from other areas as I find it interesting to mix thoughts from other segments. We have now made a release with a personality [da área] of fashion, the model Isabeli Fontana, and we will also do it with a visual artist. So every 3 months we will release a piece in collaboration with a person who has a skill in a field other than design. The idea is to mix these worlds and the arts.

How did the process of creating these new pieces go?

Our first experience was with model Isabeli Fontana and she brought a lot of fashion into the piece we launched. There are 100 numbered pieces, so it will always be a limited edition. And creating with someone who comes from another art opens up a horizon you didn’t know, we got to know an infinite palette of colors and materials that she brought from fashion, the language she understands in fashion and the audience she has as good. I think that kind of partnership helps on both sides because she’s coming out with a slightly bigger vision of design and I’m leaving with a slightly bigger vision of fashion, and that will happen in other areas as well.

What art have you consumed at home, in your daily life?

I looked at Bento de Sumé’s pieces because I’ve been a collector of his pieces for a long time, so I had my eye on pieces that I’ve never seen and I don’t have anything similar either. This is the kind of art I consume. The one by Sérgio Teófilo, another artist from Paraíba, who makes sculptures with clay and now has pieces of wood, I didn’t know that and it’s something else I want for myself. And something I have a lot in the house are photos of other photographer friends that I take with me.

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