In just a few short years, Guilherme Wentz has established himself as one of the most important new Brazilian furniture designers, not by imitating the long line of modern masters that came before him but with his own minimal, contemporary style. His body of work is evolving quickly, becoming more technical and reflective of the designer’s values.
Wentz, who is based in the southern Brazilian city of Caxias do Sul, launched his first line in 2019. The clean, crisp collection didn’t necessarily look like a tribute to nature, but was informed by his time on the beaches surrounding Punta del Este, Uruguay, one of his favourite destinations. Nature, and the ocean in particular, is a passion for Wentz, informing all of his work. But he is quickly progressing from taking inspiration from nature to taking action on the environmental crisis that threatens it.
Mar by Wentz: ‘designing to make a difference’
With his latest collection, titled ‘Mar’, or ‘sea’ in Portuguese, Wentz is not just taking inspiration from the water; he is harvesting ocean-borne plastic waste to incorporate into the line. The collection comprises the ‘Onda’ and ‘Mare’ coffee tables, elegant marble-topped pieces with wave-inspired details that are unexpected given the choice of material. There is also a special edition of his popular ‘Vidro’ glass side table, but the highlights of the effort are the ‘Canoa’ lounge chair and ‘Tubo’ dining chair.
Both chairs are upholstered with fabric woven from virgin polyester and recycled ocean plastic using a computerised 3D-weaving technique. Developed by the clothing industry, it allows an entire slipcover to be created in one continuous piece, pre-shaped to match the chair’s form. The pieces are then hand-fitted and finished with thread that is also made of recycled plastic. Wentz has trademarked this innovative process under the name We-Knit, which yields seamless, surprising shapes. It’s hard to imagine either of these chairs being possible without this technology, particularly the intertwined cylindrical shapes of the ‘Tubo’.
These pieces represent a turning point in Wentz’s career, not just for their intriguing design or innovative fabrication method but because they mark a permanent shift for him and his company. ‘I’ve stopped designing for designers. Now, I’m designing to make a difference. I want to use my craft to make things better for the environment in everything I do,’ he says.
Wentz cites sportswear and fashion industry leaders Patagonia and Osklen as examples to follow. ‘These brands have a different way of thinking, of being, and they create products that respect the Earth. I want to be more than an interiors company. I want to be a new kind of lifestyle brand based on values, one that shows leadership with a new way of working that benefits the environment.’
Wentz is well on his way, not just with his new approach to upholstered furniture but also with lighting and, eventually, accessories. He recently launched a new office, design studio, and manufacturing facility dedicated to lighting production. Here, he plans to evolve the lighting division of his business in the same environmentally conscious way. ‘We are working with recycled aluminium, and LED has made a big difference, but we are looking at other materials and the manufacturing process to meet the new standards we have set with fabrics. We have to do it.’
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