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José Zanine Caldas - Square sculptured socle

The Frank Wlasek collection, created by José Zanine Caldas in the late 1960s, contains the largest amount of custom-made furniture and sculptures by the architect-designer ever to be seen, and which has been kept together to this day. More than 30 pieces make up this collection, ranging from monumental dining tables made out of entire tree trunks or roots of tropical salvaged hardwood, large series of Caldas' well-known trunk chairs and several masterpieces of sculpture, large works that are spherical and elongated to be hung from the ceiling.

In the late 1960s, collector and shipping magnate Frank Wlasek settled in Joatinga near Rio de Janeiro, after buying the home José Zanine Caldas had originally created for his daughter. Upon acquiring it, Wlasek commissioned Zanine Caldas to expand the house, turning it into the most prestigious residence by his hand.

The Wlasek residence in Joatinga.

The region of Joatinga is located southwest from Rio de Janeiro, on the hills along the Atlantic Ocean. It was here that in 1964 José Zanine Caldas would for the first time get a chance to truly develop his vision of ecological architecture, a theme that would continue to guide his work for the rest of his life.

Over the course of three decades, Caldas designed approximately thirty houses on the site, houses that incorporated modern layouts and were adapted to the local landscape, providing solutions for its architectural challenges. Situated on the hill overlooking the ocean, Caldas created two residences for his family, one for himself and one for his daughter. In the late 1960s, Caldas' daughter left Joatinga, and Frank Wlasek acquired the house. While the original house served as the center point on the most elevated position, José Zanine Caldas created a new wing on each side of the house, both hanging over the cliffs and largely exceeding the footprint of the original house. The whole is organically connected to the landscape and to the original architecture.

All materials are salvaged, carefully selected by Zanine during special jungle expeditions. Everything is made of solid tropical wood - even the roof construction inside is compiled of solid cross-sectioned woodblocks, creating not only a very sturdy construction but a highly original interior that ages beautifully. The elevated situation on the hillside of Joatinga brings the inhabitants and its visitors up to the ocean's horizon and its islands. The interior of the house is constantly connected with the wild, surrounding nature by means of long corridors and large, Asian-inspired windows.
Frank Wlasek also asked Zanine to furnish the house with his unique Denuncia pieces of furniture and sculptures. The outside terraces of the house were filled with pieces like the famous Namoradeira chairs and sculptures shown in an organic mix. Some of these were exhibited in Paris during the show in the Musée des Arts Decoratifs in 1989.

Object information

Pink Cedar / Cedrela sp, Meliacease
Date and place:
Brazil, 1980
80 x 300 x 100 cm
Private collection Frank Wlasek, Joatinga, Brazil, acquired directly from the artist.

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