Oscar Niemeyer (Brazil, 1907–2012)

Oscar Niemeyer made modernist architecture sexy. In his signature designs, such as those for the planned capital city of Brasília, Niemeyer created a distinctively buoyant architectural vocabulary of sweeping curves, flowing lines and organic forms. As expressions of faith in the power of modern architecture and design to foster progress, Niemeyer’s buildings have a kind of heroic poetry.


Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho was born to an upper-middle-class family in Rio de Janeiro. (His father was a graphic designer.) While in graduate school, Niemeyer began working for Lúcio Costa, one of the few modernist architects working in Brazil in the 1930s. Niemeyer would be assigned to the design team for a new building in Rio for the Ministry of Education and Health. The famed Swiss-born French architect Le Corbusier was hired as a consultant on the project, and through him Niemeyer would absorb many lessons in bringing a sense of structural lightness to large buildings — though he would never embrace the geometric forms espoused by Le Corbusier and the members of the Bauhaus.


“I am not attracted to straight angles or to the straight line, hard and inflexible, created by man,” Niemeyer would write in his memoirs. “I am attracted to free-flowing sensual curves.” Nowhere would Niemeyer demonstrate his love of curvature more expressively and elegantly than in his designs for the principal buildings for Brasília, a project begun in 1956. The dramatic Congressional Palace features two stark towers flanked by a domed structure and a bowl-shaped edifice, for the upper and lower legislative houses. He placed the Palácio da Alvorada (the presidential residence) on a small peninsula jutting into a lake, so that the sequence of parabolic columns on its facade casts a mirror image on the water. Niemeyer’s grandest achievement was the city’s cathedral, a stunning composition of 16 arced vertical supports with tinted-glass interstices.

Four years after Brasília was completed, in 1960, Brazil’s elected government was overthrown in a military coup. Niemeyer, a member of the Communist party, was harassed continually by the junta. He left the country and did not return until democracy was restored, in 1985. While in exile, in the early 1970s, Niemeyer began collaborating on furniture designs with his daughter, Anna Maria Niemeyer. Their best known pieces, the Alta lounge chair and ottoman and the Rio rocking chaise, have flowing bases made of sheets of lacquered wood or stainless steel, share the aesthetics of Niemeyer’s architecture. The Alta’s deep, oversized seat pads nod — much like the chair designs of Niemeyer’s countryman Sergio Rodrigues — to the Brazilian penchant for long, languorous conversations. Examples of both designs are priced at about $20,000, depending on age, condition and materials. As you will see on these pages, Oscar Niemeyer’s furniture designs are sleek, sculptural, comfortable and elegant — as well as a compact emblem of the work of one of the great architects of our time.

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Oscar Niemeyer Rio Lounge Chair by Fasem, Italy
By Oscar Niemeyer, Fasem International
Oscar Niemeyer Rio Lounge Chair by Fasem, Italy
Oscar Niemeyer, Fasem International
20th Century Italian Mid-Century Modern Chaise Longues
Leather, Ash
Black leather "Rio" rocking chaise longue by Brazilian architect and designer Oscar Niemeyer. Cushion and headrest upholstered in leather, frame made of black stained ash. Produced by F...
Original Edition Brazilia Armchair by Oscar Niemeyer
By Oscar Niemeyer
Original Edition Brazilia Armchair by Oscar Niemey...
Oscar Niemeyer
Vintage 1970s French Armchairs
Stainless Steel, Leather
Original Brazilia armchair, circa 1970, by Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012); mobilier International (editor). Structure formed of two stainless steel angled blades joining under the seat, a t...
Iconic Oscar Niemeyer Lounge Chair and Ottoman for Mobilier International, 1975
By Mobilier International, Oscar Niemeyer
Iconic Oscar Niemeyer Lounge Chair and Ottoman for...
Mobilier International, Oscar Niemeyer
Vintage 1970s French Mid-Century Modern Lounge Chairs
Steel, Leather, Bakelite
Iconic lounge chair and ottoman designed by Oscar Niemeyer for Mobilier International in the 1970s. Steel structure, bakelite knobs, white leather.
Oscar Niemeyer Lounge Chair and Ottoman, 1975
By Oscar Niemeyer
Oscar Niemeyer Lounge Chair and Ottoman, 1975
Oscar Niemeyer
Antique 1670s French Mid-Century Modern Lounge Chairs
Stainless Steel
Iconic lounge chair and ottoman designed by Oscar Niemeyer for Mobilier International in the 1970s. Steel structure, bakelite knobs, linen and cotton coating.
Alta Chair and Ottoman by Oscar Niemeyer
By Oscar Niemeyer
Alta Chair and Ottoman by Oscar Niemeyer
Oscar Niemeyer
Vintage 1970s Brazilian Mid-Century Modern Chairs
Alta chair and ottoman set designed by Oscar Niemyer was the first piece of furniture the legendary architect designed, along with his daughter Anna Maria Niemeyer, in 1971. The "Alta" ...
Original "Rio" Rocking Chaise by Oscar Niemeyer
By Oscar Niemeyer
Original "Rio" Rocking Chaise by Oscar Niemeyer
Oscar Niemeyer
Late 20th Century Italian Mid-Century Modern Chaise Longues
Brass, Leather, Bentwood
Sculptural rocking chaise longue in black painted laminated wood frame, brass fittings, and original tan leather upholstery with adjustable counterbalanced headrest. Designed in 1978 by...
Set of Eight Mid-Century Modern Broyhill Brasilia Dining Chairs
By Oscar Niemeyer, Broyhill Brasilia
Set of Eight Mid-Century Modern Broyhill Brasilia ...
Oscar Niemeyer, Broyhill Brasilia
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Dining Room Chairs
Wood
Set of eight Mid-Century Modern Broyhill Brasilia dining chairs. This set includes seven chairs without arms and one captain armchair. Highly sought after and collectible design by Osca...
Rio Chaise by Oscar Niemeyer
By Oscar Niemeyer
Rio Chaise by Oscar Niemeyer
Oscar Niemeyer
21st Century and Contemporary Brazilian Modern Chaise Longues
Cane, Wood
Originally designed in 1978 by Oscar Niemeyer and his daughter Anna Maria Niemeyer, the Rio rocking chaise is exemplary of Niemeyer’s exquisite curves and sinuous forms made famous by h...
Marquesa Bench by Oscar Niemeyer
By Oscar Niemeyer
Marquesa Bench by Oscar Niemeyer
Oscar Niemeyer
21st Century and Contemporary Brazilian Modern Benches
Cane, Wood
Originally designed in 1974 by Oscar Niemeyer and his daughter Anna Maria Niemeyer, the Marquesa bench is exemplary of Niemeyer’s exquisite curves and sinuous forms made famous by his s...
Oscar Niemeyer, "Rio" Chaise Longue, Produzione Fasem, Italy
By Oscar Niemeyer, Fasem International
Oscar Niemeyer, "Rio" Chaise Longue, Produzione Fa...
Oscar Niemeyer, Fasem International
2010s Italian Modern Chaise Longues
Leather, Ash
A sculptural rocking Rio chaise longue, designed in 1978, contemporary edition. Base composed of three elements including supple ribbons of molded darkened ash laminate, cushions mainta...
Lounge Chair Rio Oscar Niemeyer, 1978
By Oscar Niemeyer
Lounge Chair Rio Oscar Niemeyer, 1978
Oscar Niemeyer
Vintage 1970s Brazilian Daybeds
The Rio lounge chair is a chair designed by the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and his daughter Anna Maria Niemeyer in 1978 History: During the 1970s, the architect Oscar Nie...
Oscar Niemeyer, "Rio" Chaise Longue, Produzione Fasem, Italy
By Oscar Niemeyer, Fasem International
Oscar Niemeyer, "Rio" Chaise Longue, Produzione Fa...
Oscar Niemeyer, Fasem International
Early 2000s Italian Modern Chaise Longues
Leather, Ash
A sculptural rocking Rio chaise longue, designed in 1978, contemporary edition. Base composed of three elements including supple ribbons of molded darkened ash laminate, cushions mainta...
Strick House Daybed by Amir Farr
By Oscar Niemeyer, Amir Farr
Strick House Daybed by Amir Farr
Oscar Niemeyer, Amir Farr
Vintage 1960s American Daybeds
Bench or daybed designed by Amir Farr in consultation with Oscar Niemeyer for the famous Strick House, Niemeyer's only completed residential commission in the United States. Due to his ...
Rio Lounge Chair or Chaise Longue Designed by Oscar Niemeyer
By Oscar Niemeyer, Fasem International
On Hold
Rio Lounge Chair or Chaise Longue Designed by Osca...
Oscar Niemeyer, Fasem International
Vintage 1970s Italian Modern Chaise Longues
Steel, Leather, Chrome, Wood
An elite chaise longue designed by the legendary Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, one of the most significant and popular figures in modern international architecture. The unique des...
Broyhill Saga Walnut Dining Chairs, Set of Six, circa 1960
By Oscar Niemeyer, Broyhill Brasilia, Broyhill
Broyhill Saga Walnut Dining Chairs, Set of Six, ci...
Oscar Niemeyer, Broyhill Brasilia, Broyhill
Vintage 1960s Mid-Century Modern Dining Room Chairs
Fabric, Wool, Walnut
Excellent candidate for reupholstery, this set of dining chairs from the Saga collection by Broyhill and often attributed to the Brasilia collection by Oscar Niemeyer for Broyhill Premi...
Original Vintage "Rio" Rocking Chaise by Oscar Niemeyer
By Oscar Niemeyer
Original Vintage "Rio" Rocking Chaise by Oscar Nie...
Oscar Niemeyer
Vintage 1970s Chaise Longues
Chrome, Leather, Steel, Wood
A sculptural rocking chaise longue in black painted laminated wood frame with leather upholstery and adjustable, counterbalanced headrest. Designed by Oscar Niemeyer manufactured by Fas...
Vintage "Rio" Chaise Longue by Oscar Niemeyer
By Oscar Niemeyer
Vintage "Rio" Chaise Longue by Oscar Niemeyer
Oscar Niemeyer
Vintage 1960s Brazilian Mid-Century Modern Chaise Longues
Wood, Cane, Leather
An amazing example of Oscar Niemeyer's design: All original vintage chaise longue in bentwood and caning with a counter balanced leather headrest.
Oscar Niemeyer, Table Niemeyer, Estel, Italy, 1985
By Oscar Niemeyer, Estel
Oscar Niemeyer, Table Niemeyer, Estel, Italy, 1985...
Oscar Niemeyer, Estel
Vintage 1980s Italian Modern Desks and Writing Tables
Wood, Stainless Steel, Glass
Table Niemeyer 1985 with tempered glass tabletop and a single sculptural leg made in wood covered with brushed stainless steel, with internal counter-weight plates. Designed by Oscar Ni...