”Lina Bo Bardi was one of the most important and expressive architects in 20th century Brazilian architecture” (Baratto, 2014).
Bo Bardi’s very strong desire to break down the boundaries between art and life, artist and audience made her eclectic architecture famous all over the world (Bardi’s Bowl chair, n/d). She was born in Rome in 1914 where she graduated in 1939 from The University of Architecture in Rome. She thereafter quickly started her political activity and various editorial work in Milan where she also met her partner Pietro Maria Bardi, with whom she moved permanently to Sao Paulo in Brazil in 1946. Brazil and the culture became her primary inspiration. She started her never-ending study of the Brazilian art from an anthropological perspective, which spread her carreer over many creative areas such as art, furniture, graphic design and curatorship (Baratto, 2014). Bo Bardi was seen by many as a modernist by dint of her selections of plain materials, such as glass and steel modulated in simple forms yet she adopted parts of her new culture into each of her projects (Moore, 2012 Sept). She was also known for embracing the users and often placed them in the center of her project and can therefore still be recognized as a highly relevant architect and designer of the international style today.
Bo Bardi was involved in many great things during her life in Brazil. Her love for the design and the functional use of furniture lead her to design in her early days in Brazil the famous ‘Bardi Bowl Chair’ in 1951. The talent of the Bowl chair is the simple execution, created of two parts consisting of an upholstered shell standing on a metal structure, which enables the seat to freely move in every direction. This semi-spherical chair is empowering the Bo Bardi mindset where ‘man is the ultimate objective of architecture’ (Bertoli, 2014).
The chair has just been re-produced by Arper in 500 pieces from the only existing prototype. This re-production states that Bo Bardi was a pioneer and this chair’s relaxed approach to seating might have been radical for 1951 yet modern for 2015 shows again her strength and talent for design.
Between 1977-86 Bo Bardi transformed in stages an old drum factory to a social and cultural center, known as SESC Pompeia. This building, located in Sao Paulo is considered a masterpiece of her modernism due to the focus of putting the people in the center of the project. When she transformed the SESC Pompeia she worked on site so she could listen to builders and users.
When SESC Pompéia arrived, it was “making waves across the still waters” (Ferraz, n/d). Though the architectural complex in some ways was shocking to many, it is still used as a leisure center for football, swimming, old men playing chess, a popular canteen or the boardwalk “the beach” where you can sunbathe (Moore, 2012 Sept). This social center unfolds the great visions of Bo Bardi by creating for the people and to the people. Together it forms a democratic and powerful space for the citizens of Sao Paulo.
Bo Bardi, who died in 1992 was a strong and passionate woman who fought for merging people and the builders and to create a coherence in each piece, building or stage she was a part of creating. Her aim towards Co-existence of high and low culture transformed the culture of design in South America and brought an open mentality to the people.
Today many talk about designing for life, I believe Bo Bardi made this a reality in every project and you can tell by each, what a generous, sincere and strong-minded person she was who shaped Brazil and its people today.
Websites & articles
Baratto, Romullo. (2014, dec) ”Spotlight: Lina Bo Bardi”,
Archdaily.com. Localized: 25.04.2015
Bardi’s bowl chair (n/d) ”Lina Bo Bardi Biography”
Arper.com. Localized: 25.04.2015
Moore, Rowan. (2012, sept) ”Lina Bo Bardi, Building shape by love”
Theguardian.com. Localized: 25.04.2015
Ferraz, Marcelo. (n/d) ”The making of SESC Pompeia”
Linabobarditogether.com. Localized: 27.05.2015
Bertoli, Rosa. (2014, jan) ” Arper launches Lina Bo Bardi’s 1951 Bowl Chair”
Wallpaper.com. Localized: 27.05.2015
Lina Bo Bardi
Bardi’s Bowl chair
Photo of Bardi seated in her Bowl Chair,
Picture of the building today,