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Pair of Lounge Chairs, Jorge Zalszupin (Warsaw, 1922 - Sao Paulo, 2020)

This pair of lounge chairs allowed Jorge Zalszupin to explore the contemporary possibilities of traditional materials such as Brazilian rosewood and leather, thus creating an innovative formal language. The combination of the slender, dark wooden frame and warm colour of the leather seat and backrest confers a welcoming elegance, free of excess.

A similar lineament was later reprised in the design of the Jockey Chair (1959 - 1969). The leather seat and backrest of this chair are fixed to the wooden frame with leather straps. The distinctive character of the Jockey is achieved by allowing the joints and slot fittings to remain visible. This Jockey Chair has a more solid look compared to the lightness of the lounge chairs under discussion.

Jorge Zalszupin

During the 1950s through 1980s Brazil was characterized by an optimistic, creative atmosphere, fuelled by the arrival of artistic immigrants from Europe and the rest of the world. It is this confident belief in the future that pervaded Zalszupin's work and life, his curiosity and eagerness to always learn new techniques, use new materials, explore the possibilities of the time he worked in. Trained as an architect, Jorge Zalszupin practised many different trades, ranging from architecture to furniture design, decoration and interior design.

Born as Jerze Zalszupin in Warsaw in 1922, Zalszupin fled Poland with his family in 1939 to escape the Second World War. They settled in Romania, where the young Jerzy enrolled in the University of Bucharest, studying both at the School of Fine Arts and the School of Architecture. As the war ended, Zalszupin moved to France, where he worked as an architect in the town of Dunquerque, rebuilding homes that had been destroyed in the war. Yet the dejecting state of the European continent, as he experienced it, moved the young architect to emigrate far from Europe, which was "impoverished by the constant wars, content in its past and against any sort of progress, since all the glories pertained to the past."

Zalszupin arrived in Brazil in 1950. The country at that time was receiving an influx of foreign immigrants, many of them artists, designers or architects, full of the hopes and expectations of the Post-war New World and identifying in Brazil the drive and potential for the development of their projects. Several Brazilian architectural projects had already received international acclaim for the way in which they were integrated with the environment, the attention to climatic suitability as well as the use of local elements. The 1950s saw the solidification of the Brazilian modernist movement, in the plastic arts and in architecture, as well as the establishing of an industrial policy, driven by the intervention of the State, whose motto it was to "move 50 years forward in 5".

The designers who defined this period were characterized by their creative imagination, an extensive knowledge of the materials and productive processes involved, and a sensitivity to what people wanted to see in their homes' interiors. These include the couple Pietro Maria and Lina Bardi (Studio de Arte Palma and Pau Brasil furniture company), Joaquim Tenreiro, and José Zanine Caldas (Fábrica de Móveis Z), Sérgio Rodrigues and Geraldo de Barros (Hobjeto Indústria e Comércio de Móveis S.A.).

Upon his arrival in Rio de Janeiro, Jorge Zalszupin started visiting fellow architects, hoping to secure a position. Unemployed, with his money running out, he contacted another Polish architect in São Paulo, named Lucian Korngold. It was Korngold who gave Zalszupin his first job in Brazil, where he would stay for two years. After obtaining the Brazilian citizenship, Zalszupin established his own studio.

Due to the absence of furniture that would suit the new, modernist building style, clients turned to their architects to design appropriate pieces. In this way, Jorge Zalszupin would create chairs, tables, armchairs and other pieces for his customers, extrapolating the formal language, modernist principles and an eye for cultural trends. In order to control the production process, Zalszupin founded his own manufacturing company with three carpenters he knew to be artisans of exceptional quality. The company was called L'Atelier and produced furniture that embodied the so-called 'tropical modernism' of Brazil, simple designs with clean lines, executed in high quality materials with great attention to detail and finishing.

The most prestigious commission for Zalszupin was undoubtedly the opportunity to collaborate with Oscar Niemeyer on the conception and production of furniture for the new federal capital of Brasilia. Other members of the design team were Anna Maria Niemeyer, Sérgio Rodrigues and Joaquim Tenreiro. Classical pieces by Mies van der Rohe, Eero Saarinen and Charles and Ray Eames also found their place in the concept for the new city.

Thanks to this diversification of activities - architecture, furniture design, decoration and interior design - the business expanded and Jorge Zalszupin was able to travel to Europe, first Germany and later Denmark, to acquaint himself with technical innovations.

The materials with which Zalszupin created his furniture designs, were those traditionally used for the manufacture of Brazilian furniture: tropical woods, such as Brazilian rosewood, metal and leather. The introduction of plastic materials however, brought with it new possibilities for further innovations. Eager to experiment with this modern element, Zalszupin produced a chair for the London-based company Hille, and a number of products for Kartell. The experience of large-scale production in series brought a fresh vigour to Zalszupin, always highly determined to overcome the challenges and the technological and productive limitations that the country faced in its process of industrialization.


- KRANZ B., 'Jorge Zalszupin abre sua casa em SP', Casa Vogue 325 (September 2014).

- LOSCHIAVO DOS SANTOS M.C., Jorge Zalszupin : Modern Design in Brazil, São Paulo 2014.

Object information

Brazilian rosewood and leather
Date and place:
Brazil, ca. 1960
74 x 58 x 78 cm
Estate of Mr. Milton Vieira Dantas, Jacarepaguá, Rio de Janeiro († 2019).

With the original saddle leather and L'Atelier labels under the seats.

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Object images

  • Pair of Lounge Chairs, ca. 1960, Jorge Zalszupin (Warsaw, 1922 - Sao Paulo, 2020)
  • Pair of Lounge Chairs, ca. 1960, Jorge Zalszupin (Warsaw, 1922 - Sao Paulo, 2020)
  • Pair of Lounge Chairs, ca. 1960, Jorge Zalszupin (Warsaw, 1922 - Sao Paulo, 2020)
  • Pair of Lounge Chairs, ca. 1960, Jorge Zalszupin (Warsaw, 1922 - Sao Paulo, 2020)
  • Pair of Lounge Chairs, ca. 1960, Jorge Zalszupin (Warsaw, 1922 - Sao Paulo, 2020)
  • Pair of Lounge Chairs, ca. 1960, Jorge Zalszupin (Warsaw, 1922 - Sao Paulo, 2020)
  • Pair of Lounge Chairs, ca. 1960, Jorge Zalszupin (Warsaw, 1922 - Sao Paulo, 2020)
  • Pair of Lounge Chairs, ca. 1960, Jorge Zalszupin (Warsaw, 1922 - Sao Paulo, 2020)