Brazilian Design of the Forma Workshop

On 19 February 2021, by Caroline Legrand

Carlo Hauner and Martin Eisler belong to Brazil’s highly regarded design school, driven by a taste for nature’s simplicity.

Carlo Hauner (1927-1997) and Martin Eisler (1913-1972), Costella, c. 1960, curved rosewood and blackened tubular metal, made by Forma (Brazil), 85 x 140 x 80 cm (33.46 x 55.11 x 31.49 in).
Estimate: €7,000/10,000

The Brazilian and Scandinavian design schools have one thing in common: both have a clear preference for wood, especially rosewood, the noblest tropical species, valued for its sturdiness, elegance and color, which can take on subtle shades. This superb streamlined sofa is a fine example. It consists of large rosewood slats curved at the ends and resting on a blackened tubular metal structure. The designers were Martin Eisler and Carlo Hauner, founders of the Forma workshop, which makes a wide range of affordable furniture, mainly of Brazilian wood.

Both were immigrants. Eisler, the son of a Viennese Jew who was a founding member of the modernist Austrian Werkbund Association, left Austria for Argentina in 1938 before moving to Brazil in the early 1950s. Hauner was born in Brescia, Italy and went to South America in 1949. They met in São Paulo in 1953 and quickly decided to merge their companies into one: Forma. Their furniture ranks among the 1950s’ iconic creations, but the collaboration was short-lived: Hauner returned to Italy in 1958. For the next two decades, Eisler's workshop continued to thrive, leading to a partnership with Knoll International.

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