A new Classic
Furniture designed by Gisela Bentes Simas are like people: You only get to know them by living with them for some time. As time goes by, drawers, cases, trays and textures start to reveal themselves. Gisela advises that it is necessary to make use of touch. At her first exhibition in Brazil, which took place at “Arquivo Contemporaneo” she brought together 7 pieces of furniture: From an armchair to a magazine rack, creating a collection with a distinctive DNA: Timeless, detailed, balanced and made of wood (with exception of a light fixture made of brass).
— I love craftwork, in the form of everlasting wood. These are my key features. I use it to create beautiful and functional pieces, full of useful discoveries… says Gisela, founder of the brand OPD, acronym for Original and Practical Design.
One of the first pieces was the Chaise G, a chunky structure with tailored leather-upholstery. There are surprises found on its sides, out of which 2 supporting trays pop out. There are also two lamps at the back used for reading.
— It is minimalistic and fully equipped. I like that. I get inspiration from the 50’s and from the Scandinavian design in my blue prints – She explains, she was born in Petropolis and has lived in London since 2009.
Joao Caetano, from “Arquivo Contemporaneo”, recounts how he and Gisela first met 2 years ago. She found him whilst looking to exhibit her collection, and it was not long before he noticed her potential.
— Gisela brought incredibly mature work, entirely made of wood and well detailed, meticulous in its finish with particular attention to functionality. She even thinks of the packaging. This adds more value to the product – Compliments Joao, and continues – To highlight her work, we will have an individual exhibition of each piece , on the second floor.
In September, OPD Design took part at “100% Design” fair, the biggest in the UK, and one of the most important in the world. Gisela, who subscribed in August to join the 2016 edition, was invited at the last minute to the 2015 one, and had to finish everything in just one week.
— It was a surprise for me and insane. I had never received a call at such short notice. As it was a rush, I was unable to expose all the pieces that are currently exhibited here in Rio. I brought only the ones which were made in Europe – She tells us having produced the majority of her portfolio, in Petropolis.
DNA from Sergio Rodrigues
The carpenter, who used to work for Sergio Rodrigues, makes the largest pieces. Their encounter happened by chance. Gisela was in search of someone with advanced expertise in wood and, in one of her visits, she saw a humble shack with a chair by Sergio. She found it intriguing.
— I asked him to show me some of his other work. He showed me the Sergio Rodrigues catalogue and said: “All of this” – She was pleasantly surprised!
Another meeting that Gisele remembers with happiness, is the one with the architect and designer Jader Almeida. She speaks with admiration about the pieces created by this colleague (“They’re amazing. By the way, in London, they only talk about him”) and with pride, she reminds us of all the compliments he made about her furniture. The empathy is mutual.
— Gisela’s work is consistent, from design to the choice of material. The shapes are well defined, in proportion and balance. She is a perfectionist with details, says Jader.
Gisela was not always focused on designing objects. The youngest of 8 children, she realised early on that she would have to get by on her own. She started her own line confection at sixteen. She designed, bought the fabric and took it to the dressmakers. At the beginning, she made them for her friends, but soon, she was selling to big stores, such as Mesbla, until her production of 18 thousand pieces was cancelled leaving her bankrupt. In 1996, she launched a space for co-working, in an old venue, which nowadays is the Wax Museum of Petropolis. There, she opened an office for interior design and decoration.
— At this time, I started buying old recycled wood. I stored wooden boards with the idea of transforming them into furniture – She then applied for an Interior Design course at the Candido Mendes University. – And began making my own things. From then onwards I have been attempting to attain timelessness. Wood brings an element of eternity.
Gisela moved to London with her husband, and specialized in Product Design and Carpentry for furniture at Central Saint Martins. She set up an office and then, everything fell into place! Gisela, along with other artists, craftsmen and musicians, creates projects in a loft focusing on shapes that can ease our daily routine.
-My main stimulus is my own life. How can I make it easier? How can a piece of furniture be adapted to a particular need? I always ask myself this question and then try to resolve it! She says.
The sideboard MS, for example, was conceived this way. She noticed she was missing a piece of furniture where small objects could be stored and easily found. An example being the never ending search for sets of keys! The MS has a place for the keys and also for letters and other important bits and pieces.
Another quality she aims to bring to OPD design is technology. All her pieces are tagged with QR codes, with information about the product. Many of the cuts are made with lasers to be perfect and she works side by side with physicists as per making wireless lamps, for example Toti, which works on electromagnetic induction.
My next step is to introduce cork!
— I am in love with the materials and stunning things are made from this in Portugal.