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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Mid-Century Modern Oscar Niemeyer for Broyhill Brasilia Dining Table, 1960s

By Oscar Niemeyer, Broyhill Brasilia
Mid-Century Modern Oscar Niemeyer for Broyhill Bra...
Oscar Niemeyer, Broyhill Brasilia
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Dining Room Tables
Wood
For your consideration is a wonderful dining table, by Oscar Niemeyer for Broyhill Brasilia, circa the 1960s. In excellent condition. The dimensions are 66" W x 40" D x 30" H. Matching ...
Mid-Century Modern Niemeyer Broyhill Brasilia Set Six Dining Chairs Side Arm

By Oscar Niemeyer, Broyhill Brasilia
Mid-Century Modern Niemeyer Broyhill Brasilia Set ...
Oscar Niemeyer, Broyhill Brasilia
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Dining Room Chairs
Walnut
For your consideration is gorgeous walnut wood set of six dining chairs, four side and two with arms, by Oscar Neimeyer for Broyhill Brasilia, circa the 1960s. In excellent condition. J...
Mid-Century Modern Niemeyer Broyhill Brasilia Dining Set Table Six Chairs, 1960s

By Oscar Niemeyer, Broyhill Brasilia
Mid-Century Modern Niemeyer Broyhill Brasilia Dini...
Oscar Niemeyer, Broyhill Brasilia
Vintage 1960s American Mid-Century Modern Dining Room Sets
Walnut
For your consideration is a fantastic dining set, including a table and six chairs (two with arms and four side), by Oscar Niemeyer for Broyhill Brasilia, circa 1960s. In excellent cond...
"Marquesa" Bench in Red with Cane Seat and Bent Wood Detailing at Each End
"Marquesa" Bench in Red with Cane Seat and Bent Wo...
Oscar Niemeyer
Early 2000s Brazilian Post-Modern Benches
Cane, Wood
"Marquesa" bench in red with cane seat and bentwood detailing at each end. Designed by Oscar Niemeyer, Brazil, 1978. Produced in Brazil from December 2007-December 2008 only, in honour ...
Lounge Chair 'Rio' by Oscar Niemeyer for Fasem International

By Oscar Niemeyer, Fasem International
Lounge Chair 'Rio' by Oscar Niemeyer for Fasem Int...
Oscar Niemeyer, Fasem International
Vintage 1970s Italian Mid-Century Modern Chaise Longues
Leather, Ash
The rocking chaise or lounge chair 'Rio' by Oscar Niemeyer for Fasem International, Italy. Upholstered in black leather, frame made of black stained ash. Adjustable headrest, with two ...
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
Steel, Leather, Chrome, 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...
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...
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...
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
Stainless Steel, Glass, Wood
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...