"The spirit of the forest remains when the wood is treated with love." (Sergio Rodrigues)
When he started designing furniture, Sergio went out in a frantic search for a design that could represent the spirit "of our people." To achieve it, he plunged into a little explored area in which "wood, our raw material, leather, straw, and thick fabrics would have primordial projection," as he used to say. "They did not know this, but by designing with these materials, they were delivering a mortal blow to thin-feet furniture, and using Jacaranda was the blow of death on the pau-marfim style," said Sergio, once, during an interview with Casa e Jardim magazine.
Sergio then went in pursuit of new projects and materials. Aided by what he called "the great contribution of technology," which brought new equipment and machinery, and by the "appearance of an infinite range of materials," Sergio left to sow the seeds of his work at Oca and, later, at Meia-Pataca. Naturally, his passion for wood began when he was still very young and he saw his uncle James' workers use wood to fill his uncle's orders.
As once said the architect and urban planner Lucio Costa, Sergio was able to "superimpose on modern furniture production elements seen at the Brazilian homes of our ancestors." Sergio's use of wood and straw in his work reinforces that view. He worked with these two materials very well, creating new forms of seats that have become classics, such as the Oscar armchair, in honor of Oscar Niemeyer, of 1956: Solid wood, originally Jacaranda, with a backrest and straw seat. To honor Lucio Costa, Sergio designed the Lucio Chair, also made of wood with seat in straw.
At first and for a long time, Sergio chose Jacaranda, a type of hardwood that is durable and easy to work with, as his favorite. However, the widespread use of this type of wood and its smuggling abroad led to its depletion, and, from the 1980s, he went on to use wood such as imbuia, pau-marfim, and frejó, among others. Later, he also used eucalyptus and tauari. Straw and leather - materials whose tradition dates back to colonial furniture in Brazil - play an important supporting role in his creations, and only in a few pieces did its use surpass the use of timber.
"Furniture considered as formal was made of Jacaranda because the wood itself added dignity to the product. But for less expensive pieces, made on a larger scale, the pieces were made of wood that had a touch of Jacaranda or were also masked of Jacaranda, in other words, varnished like it, to give it that special quality. I started using Jacaranda precisely because it had that quality, with that in mind. The furniture that used to be made in palaces and in more formal settings here in Brazil were of Jacaranda. Then I started using this material to enhance design too."