Sergio Rodrigues started presenting his work in a context that was already teaming with the idea of modernity and was daring to take the first steps in Brazilianness
When Sergio Rodrigues graduated from the college of Architecture, in 1952, the winds of a new modernist language coming mainly from a Europe interested in "rationalizing" domestic life started blowing in Brazil. The Industrial Revolution had changed hearts and minds during the eighteenth century and laid the foundations of a more practical, less artisanal and sophisticated life. With the end of the two world wars, Europe found herself immersed in movements that were reviewing the wasteful life of the elites before the conflicts and betting on a more rational, economical life.
In Brazil, the higher classes were still dazzled with European furniture, upholstery made of velvet and other fine fabrics, which hid its internal design, such as the French furniture that Sergio called "ladies" furniture, "full of embellishments". The designer and sculptor Joaquim Tenreiro, creator of iconic Brazilian furniture, used to speak of the style "of all Louises," referring to the kings of France. But even in Europe, this type of furniture was still what people wanted.
The European rationalist movement then began to move away from that style, which marked the taste of the wealthy homes of that era. In the early 1910s, a line of thought that introduced new proposals that preached "the shape that follows the object's function, and function alone" surfaced in design.
When Sergio became interested in creating furniture in the 1950s, attempts to make the modern Brazilian furniture were already emerging in the country. In the 1920s, for example, Gregori Warchavchik, a Ukrainian architect and designer who had studied in Italy, immigrated to Brazil and built the first modernist houses in the country. He used to support the rationalist furniture idea, already in vogue in Europe, and launched the first modernist architecture manifesto in Brazil. He introduced the metals that were widely used in the European rationalist language to his furniture, but did not absorb Brazilian influences or the materials found here. On the other hand, he focused on designing the purer lines of the modern language and joined a group that also included Lasar Segal, a Lithuanian painter and sculptor who moved to Brazil in 1923 and also ventured into furniture design.