A square salt and pepper set called “Murazzo”, designed by Rubens Simões, and a cutlery collection created by architect Arthur Casas, both for Riva are available at The Museum of Modern Art store in New York and online. Riva is one of the most awarded Brazilian brands, specializing in innovative design products using stainless steel and silver. Both collections have received important international design awards. The cutlery set won the Red Dot in 2008 and the Murazzo won the prestigious IF Product Design Award, in 2006.
Rubens Simões, who is the art director and designer for RIVA fittingly named his creation after a small and cozy city in Italy. Simões created the sleek, stainless steel salt and pepper shakers out of concern for ecological waste by using the remnants of Riva’s other manufactured products. The result of his creative process: two tiny boxes (1.5”h x 1.5”w x .75″d) that align contemporary design with practical use, a clear and straight-lined conception.
The second collection designed by the architect Arthur Casas – was inspired by the geometry of a jararaca which is a snake indigenous to Brazil. The set’s knife, forks, and spoons each feature a triangular shape modeled after the jararaca’s head. The knives, forks, spoons, the handles of a soup bowl and a tray all assume a triangular shape. The cutlery is composed of 130 items, which includes 10 household pieces, 10 individual accessories, as well as a storage case made with Brazilian wood. Casas is one of the most reknowned architects and interior designers in Brazil and Internationally. From architecture to furniture design, his work is clean and marked by the symmetry of spaces, natural materials, transparency and style that combine elegance with intelligence.
Q: What was your inspiration for the cutlery collection you designed for Riva?
A: The design of the spoon was inspired by the head of the Jararaca snake, a common type of Brazilian snake and based on the spoon shape I designed the other items for the Riva collection.
Q: What are some of the latest trends you are seeing in architecture and interior design?
A: Clearly the latest trend is to be concerned of the source and sustainability of materials and finishes. Sustainability will drive architecture and interior design from now on.
Q: What have been some of your favorite projects?
A: Honestly I don’t have one in particular. The best project is that one that I’m designing, especially if I’m design something for myself.
Q: Are there any architects past or present whom you admire?
A: I have plenty that I admire. I will mention two of them just to summarize my personal list, Richard Neutra (past) and SANAA: Kazuyo Sejima+ Ryue Nishizawa (present).
Q: What are the key influences in your work today?
A: Nowadays my work is the result of a rationalist approach, transparency, simple color schemes and of course, taking into consideration the materials and finishes, which is this is the approach that I’ve been taking for the past 20 years. I’m constantly keeping my eyes opened to contemporary work form other architects and professionals, however I’m always following my own paths, inspirations and beliefs.
Q: How did your personal style and signature play into the designs of cutlery set you did for Riva?
A: The beauty of the silverware is its shape, the form follows function. For these who dont remember this is the Bauhaus concept of production which many architects have taken as a priority into their design including me. I always try to not over decorate my work and I believe this principle is evident in my silverware line.
Q: How would you describe your design style in 3 words?
A: Simplicity, functionality and elegance.
Q: As a successful architect what advice would you give to a young student who wants to follow in your footsteps?
A: To become a successful architect it is necessary to have a very well tuned sense of observation, be tuned in to new things, stay updated and evidently develop the talent to be an architect.
Q: What was your inspiration behind the salt and pepper shaker you created?
A: The Murazzo’s inspiration came from my ecological concern. Dealing with steel, I was worried about the destination of thousands of products produced every day by our company that went to waste. I put a pile of products on my desk. Looked at them for a couple of days and then found a solution to reuse the material: it could be a box full of surprises and why not pepper and salt shakers? The name Murazzo was in honor of a small and very cozy Italian city.
Q: What are you favorite kinds of design projects?
A: What I really look forward when I am starting a new project is what kind of innovation the object can bring and offer to the market. Most of the times, just one innovation is enough for the project to stand a chance and became a good seller. Obviously, a great finish and good design are also needed, but the aspect of innovation, for me, is the kind of design project that grabs my attention.
Q: What would you do if you weren’t a designer?
A: Sometimes, I catch myself involved with my motorcycles, since I was a kid I have had bikes and always liked to deal with engine parts and leaving it with the look and sound the way I liked. Right now as a matter of fact, I’m working on 2 used bikes and customizing every single bolt and paint job detail… so maybe, just maybe , having my own shop for custom bikes and cars would make me a happy man.
Q: What time periods in history have an influence (if any) on your work?
A: During the 80′s, I grew up going every year to Milan with my father, to visit the Macef (Salone Internazionale della Casa) fair. There, I observed and learned to appreciate many Italian manufacturers and designers. For me, it was the best schooling I could have ever had. During this period I didn’t realize that by going to all these gift shows in Milan, I was creating my own concepts and understanding about design and how soft and modern the Italian design already was.
Q: What advice would you give to a young person who would like to take the same career path as you?
A: Travel, travel, travel and then travel some more. And understand that our country (Brazil) has all the natural resources waiting to be discovered and applied on the next design project.
Q: How would you describe your design style in 3 words?
A: Durable, clean and desirable.
Q: What are some of your future plans?
A: Make Riva a brand that is synonymous with modern, sophisticated, desirable and long lasting objects.