The expectation of the modern thing | Miguel Ángel Díaz Camacho

Paulo Mendes da Rocha
Paulo Mendes da Rocha

In 1957 Paulo Mendes da Rocha designs the chair “Paulistano” for the lounges of the Gymnasium of São Paulo’s Athletic Club. It suits to rescue this brief description in technical which in the design and social commitment they look like two faces of the same currency:

“The chair is done by pipe of steel, which is very cheap. It is possible to buy of the exact measure, gets about itself to curl and a point of weld is given him only. The coating is done where one wants. It is a chair done to cost approximately seventy or eighty Euros, but the manufacturers of furniture say that nobody values you if you sell reduction sale. I did this chair in 1957. The first coating it was sewed by the wife of the blacksmith who curled the steel”.1

In spite of belonging to the modern family of chairs realized based on pipes curled (Mart Stam, Marcel Breuer, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe …), Mendes da Rocha puts the accent – almost 30 years later – in two fundamental aspects of the design: the sobriety in the economic thing and the flexibility in the final adjustment of the object on the part of the user. Probably these two parameters convert to the type “Paulistano” into a rudimentary element furniture, less refined than his predecessors: there are enough a pipeline of heating of an inch – this that so much were pleasing to Jack – and a resistant well fabric; they exceed the leather, the cromados and in general any observation of exclusivity as sign of the good taste or of the sedentarismo. The beauty is a universal and inclusive attribute.

Maybe the really modern thing has not been still realized as legitimate collective aspiration, the idea of the design for all not as a Utopia or abstract entity, but as practical truth – or poetics – that we could develop from the elegant simplicity of an artifice anyone:

“The idea of the industrial design was that the industry would produce to scale of the population. It can imagine alone it in a modern world; so modern as still it has not managed it to be today, modern as expectation, not as anything obtained, because this it is the real sense of the modern thing, that of a world that produces for all”.2

We continue so to the expectation of the modern thing.

Miguel Ángel Díaz Camacho. PhD Architect
Madrid. February 2016.
Author of Parráfos de arquitectura#arquiParrafos


1 Paulo Mendes da Rocha, “La ciudad es de todos“, Barcelona, Fundación caja de Arquitectos, 2011, págs. 49-50.

2 Ibídem.

Miguel Ángel Díaz Camacho

Doctor en Arquitectura, Decano de la Facultad de Tecnología y Ciencia UCJC. Presidente de la Asociación Sostenibilidad y Arquitectura,  perteneciente al Consejo Superior de los Colegios de Arquitectos de España. Director de MADC Arquitectos, estudio profesional con premios en concursos nacionales e internacionales, en la actualidad desarrolla proyectos en España y Noruega. Escritor y crítico de arquitectura, es autor de los libros “Párrafos de Arquitectura. Core(oh)grafías” (2016) y “Arquitectura y Cambio Climático” (2018).

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