Hugo França has researched and developed materials and techniques to transform fallen trees into objects, sculptures and furniture. This creative reuse offers a groundbreaking proposal for sustainable design. He spent 15 years in the 1980s and 1990s in isolation in northeastern Brazil, learning the fine points of working with trees. Since that time, he has been sculpturing furniture out of fallen and burned pequi hardwood scavenged from the coastal rain forest.
Mr. França’s self-imposed exile began in 1982, when he gave up his job at a computer company in São Paulo and moved to the jungle in Bahia.
The region is rife with charred six-foot-tall trunks of trees left over from the ’60s and ’70s, when the forests were slashed and burned for agriculture and cattle grazing. The practice of deforestation has since been outlawed. There are also trees that have died from drought or flood, but are still standing 150 feet high in the middle of dense, virgin jungle. These are Mr. França’s favorite finds, because he can carve an entire furniture series from one tree.
In PUBLIC FURNITURE | URBAN TREES, Hugo França uses this experience to convert trunks and roots of condemned urban trees and trees that have washed ashore into sculptural furniture for the citizens to use. França’s process of working respects the natural features of the wood, promoting minimum waste. It also brings to light the beauty of the natural organic forms, lines, holes and cracks of the trees. Their memory remains alive with their uniqueness, being offered back to live together with people in a harmonious way.