Furniture | The Cult Shop

Silvia Nayla

A showcase for contemporary Brazilian art and design that scores high on coolness and vibrancy.

May 24 2010
Nicole Swengley

Anyone looking for a dose of sunny Brazilian style without leaving British shores might head to Notting Hill, where Silvia Nayla and her business partner, Daniela Martins, act as passionate ambassadors for contemporary Brazilian design. The two friends, both born in Brazil, opened their gallery in 2007 after spotting a UK niche. “Very little Brazilian furniture is available in London and I think we’re alone in focusing purely on design from that country,” says Nayla.

A visit to the cool, creamy space confirms Martins’ view that “Brazilian design is organic, very expressive and original”. Take the Troy stool (£1,460). Sculpted from eucalyptus wood, this comfortable, solid seat runs on hidden castors. It is designed by Pedro Petry, who has also made a stunning, glass-topped table using a fallen mango tree-trunk as its organic pedestal (£7,050). The natural wood Imbuia ice bucket with glass insert (£650) is also Petry’s. Just as eye-catching is Porfirio Valadares’ sensuously curved Joaquim chaise longue (£3,075) made of pressed plywood, and Leonardo Bueno’s Teca-wood Tama benches (£1,775), configurable for use indoors or out.

Brazilian design classics such as Sergio Rodrigues’ Beto leather armchair (£4,665; Bianca console, £6,750) vie with Hugo França’s raw wood tables and seats (£6,000-£39,000). Yet the gallery’s remit extends beyond furniture. Lighting includes Wagner Archella’s tall, acrylic Coluna Rotina lamp (£2,320), while diverse home accessories embrace a huge, palm-leaf-shaped acrylic bowl (£290), Porto Brasil’s white tableware brightened by Brazilian birds (set of six place settings, £430) and rose-shaped napkin holders (£18) made from opaque fish-scales by Brazilian prisoners.

Bespoke orders in customised sizes, colours or materials are often requested by the gallery’s clientele – a diverse bunch of lawyers, City executives, interior designers and Notting Hill locals. Paintings by contemporary Brazilian artists, such as Saul Vilela’s explosive abstracts (£1,920-£4,300), are also displayed. “I love their vibrant colours – they show real Brazilian passion,” says Martins.

“Working with artists and artisans who wouldn’t normally have much exposure in Europe is very gratifying,” says Nayla. Equally rewarding is the response to eco-friendly fashion accessories by Ephemeral Brazil, a charity founded by her friend, Cristina Carneiro de Mendonca, which trains women in Brazil’s favelas to create covetable evening clutch purses and handbags from discarded materials such as used phone-cards.

The partners are designing an own-brand furniture line, launching this autumn, and various residential interiors. “Our style is contemporary with an emphasis on unusual materials and textures,” says Nayla. “Introducing clients to work by Brazilian designers is a bonus.” And, happily for Brits, there’s no need to travel 5,800 miles for the experience.