The brilliant Domingos Tòtora is an artist
from a mountainous region of Brazil,
where his life’s work involves
sculpting curvilinear furniture and
art objects infused with an
earthy essence I can only
s o u l f u l h a r m o n y.
What a rare pleasure to learn more
about the artist’s work at Sossego
(the Portuguese word for tranquility)
during Design Chicago at the Mart
in the Windy City.
Sossego Design is bringing the warm, relaxed, and
welcoming comfort of Brazilian lifestyle
to North America, and joining the Sossego
team at the debut of Domingos Tòtora
opened me to a lovely new world.
Domingos Tòtora has lived his whole life in Maria da Fe,
and for a time, taught art to children…how lucky were they!?
It is quite enough to behold his handmade creations,
to touch and admire their organically elegant forms.
But when you learn how they came to be…
herein lies a layer of goodness which must be shared.
This was my favorite! Vazado sculpture – Domingos Tòtora
Before the artist begins sculpting,
discarded cardboard boxes
near the end of their functional life
“A fascinating and laborious process
that emulates the cycle of life”
is how Sossego’s managing partner
Jonathan Durling eloquently describes
the method Domingos employs.
The boxes are transformed into pulp before
elements of earth and water are blended in.
This cardboard which lived an ordinary life
of purity and function as a container,
undergoes deconstruction before
in the sensitive hands
of a master.
After being shaped into a form richly reflective of
the Brazilian landscape, the sculptures rest
outdoors to bake in the sun.
An encounter with Domingos’ work at Sossego
ushered me into a profound sense of awe and reverence
as my mind contemplated the artist’s philosophies,
and my heart reconciled this sacred journey of becoming.
Mesa Agua – modern table by Domingos Tòtora
A passion for natural materials.
Love for the earth.
I listened closely to Durling’s narration with an open heart,
allowing the passion and warmth he exudes
to awaken in me
a timeless sense of sossego.
It is difficult to translate the experience into language,
and isn’t that truly what fine art always accomplishes?
Kraft Bench (reminiscent of the contours of the Minas Gerais region)
How beautiful that we need not understand
a lick of Portuguese to deeply connect
with the spirit of Tòtora’s creations
which to me,
“shoot arrows of silence into
the heart of love itself”
as one of my spiritual teachers
A raw, used-up entity,
in silence and utter humility,
dissolves for a time,
merges with earth and water
toward new life,
toward fresh purpose
with the help
of earth honoring hands.
Verada Bench and Anfora Riscada – Domingos Totora
Engaging with such forms may change you.
It changed me, and this stay-at-home-gypsy
knows nada of sinuous Brazilian mountains,
of the design world in Sao Paulo,
or lush landscapes inspiring
Sossego’s video brilliantly captures the artist’s milieu.
Sossego, Frisos disk – decorative wall hanging
It’s not a small thing what Sossego is doing
in North America to introduce
Domingos Tòtora, Aristeu Pires,
and modern Brazilian design.
In my own small way, I wonder if I may also
illumine such rich artistry and brilliance
radiating from a glorious sun-soaked land.
Frisos by Domingos Tòtora
If at all possible, do go visit and feel
the sensual work of Domingo Tòtora
in person at Sossego
(Design Center at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago).
Peace (and sossego) to you right where you are.