With its lightweight charm, soft, tactile feel and highly malleable nature, rubber is yet again being pressed into service to excellent effect by Brazilian designers.
And we’re not talking about Havaianas, the rubber flip flops that have become an international sensation, as well as a modern Brazilian design classic. Rubber is also standing in for silver, gold and lesser metals in the form of cheerful jewellery that capitalises on its easily cut and moulded forms, and its capacity for strong, saturated colours.
Rubber is appreciated for being environmentally less damaging in its production than precious metals. But it’s fitting, too, that local designers should have taken to rubber, since Brazil is one of the material’s spiritual and actual homes – it was in use here for millennia, before taking off in the late-19th century in the highly lucrative, and also brutal and bloody, rubber boom.
The Rio-based designer Marzio Fiorini (marziofiorini.com.br) has made a speciality of the material, using PVC textured rubber to create his pieces since 2001. His work has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and the Pompidou in Paris. He is currently preparing to launch the collection Tutti Frutti, which references both the sumptuously colourful line of gemstone jewellery by the French brand Cartier and the 1930s Brazilian superstar Carmen Miranda, sometimes known as ‘the lady in the tutti frutti hat.’
|A rubbery design by Marzio Fiorini|
The designer Maurício Trentin prefers to use neoprene, a form of synthetic rubber, to make his necklaces, which are invariably in a matte black colour. The styles range from the classically inspired, with innovative renditions of pearl necklaces, to more art deco looks, interspersed with graphic forms for a more contemporary touch. The pieces cost R$220 – see below for stockists.
Other standout pieces in rubber are works by artists Lia Menna Barreto and Mauro Fuke, the creators of the brand TUN (‘do’ in German). Since 2009, the designers have created what they call ‘contemporary accessories for the body’. The results are pieces with a unique look, especially since the pair thrive on a process of creative interaction, designing their ‘collaborations’ based on the desires of customers of all ages, male and female.
The soft, versatile accessories are perfect for those with a bit of meat on their bones, since they complement curve, even resembling arty tattoos.
Hunt down the pair's jewellery at their website, or at stores like that of designer Fernanda Yamamoto, where you can pick up a fun, funky version of the ‘diamond’ rubber ring (R$15) plus sexy, stylish chokers that will set off any outfit (R$176). Find them in grey and red – and most definitely, most classically, in soft matte black.