crazy for broyhill brasilia

19 Jul

Throw me in an antiques showroom and you’ll find me immediately gravitating towards (and salivating over) a few key pieces.  One would be a Paul McCobb wall-divider.  Another, a Hans Wegner Papa Bear chair (featured prominently on Apartment Therapy). But the most iconic to me, and the most emblematic of its time, would probably be a piece of Broyhill Brasilia furniture.  Introduced at the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962, the line was created to evoke and celebrate the architecture of Brazil’s new capital, having itself been created during a four-year period in the late 1950’s.


dining room piece

bedroom collection from original catalog,

I discovered this website, Brasilia Connection, while researching the origins of the line.  Mad collectors themselves, these webmasters and BB experts restore and sell all pieces they find.   Here’s their note on the unique parabolic shape found om the city’s architecture and repeated across the collection:



When viewed from above, the city’s shape resembles a plane or bird, which is mimicked on much of Broyhill’s original fabric and tiles. What stands out most about the architecture is the use of hyperboloid structures, as in the cathedral and it’s parabolic columns, which are said to represent two hands moving upwards towards heaven.

What’s so interesting to me is how, fifty years later, these pieces seem to have captured the popular imagination among people my age, and that they’ve started showing up in nurseries and kids rooms across America.

kids brasilia

Candice's son's bedroom

One: An awesome woman and cool mom named Candice has taken photos of her son’s amazing room, and posted them on her blog, Ragamuffin Design.  Here’s a shot of the double dresser, but please check out the entire room – it rocks.

refinished double dresser

Two: A member of the “Vintage Delight” group (part of the CasaSugar site), named Carolyn has written a post about having refinished a double dresser for her daughter’s nursery.   As you can see, it’s the same piece as in Candice’s house, with a very different feel.  Of course, doing something like this to an original BB piece is akin to blasphemy to many collectors out there (I gasped the first time I saw this photo).  But, hell, to each his own, right?  It certainly ‘fits’ the nursery space very well, and as Carolyn mentions, her entire house is full of Brasilia.

There are tons of stories online of folks who bought their BB for a song at a tag sale. In fact, knowing that this is the stuff my parents grew up with, I’m sure they’ve noticed, shrugged, and passed by pieces like this time again over the years while scouring for vintage furniture.   So I’m sure you’ve got a shot there.

But if you’re of the want-it-now variety, there’s always the Brasilia Collection folks and, of course, there’s  Ebay.

five drawer dresser, available on Ebay

As of today (7/19) you can get a great dresser for a song. . .  if you live near Munroe Falls, OH (or are willing to incur shipping costs from there).  LoisLois123 is selling this beauty for $300.  The matching double dresser (like the ones featured above) is $325.   So for the price of an Oeuf crib, you’ve got yourself two vintage dressers and tons of storage.  I’m jealous already.


6 Responses to “crazy for broyhill brasilia”

  1. ragamuffindesign July 19, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

    thanks so much for the love!! here is a link to livejournal’s saucydwellings where Brewer’s room and the dresser is shown in more detail!!

  2. ragamuffindesign July 19, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

  3. Carolyn October 6, 2010 at 10:46 pm #

    hey- I am the mom who painted the piece white, also the first piece you pictured is my husband’s bedroom chest. I have a slight Brasilia addiction (dining room and master bedroom totally furnished w/ the stuff, plus 2 pieces in the now shared nursery.) I am in recovery now though… I only just now find this blog entry, because I haven’t google searched Broyhill Brasilia in a few months!

  4. tmenotte June 23, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    Great post on brasilia! I actually just refinished the double dresser for my baby nursery as well! We found it on the side of the road in misty rain. The top was covered in orange paint, water rings and paper stuck to it. Overall it was in great condition though and was totally worth refinishing. It was free and I am only in the refinishing cost. You can see the before and after on my blog here. I am so excited for her to use it.

    • youngonesdesign June 23, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

      Wow! You guys did a great job. Wish we had the room to do a refinishing job – there are so many great pieces out there that just need a little TLC. Hope your little one loves it!

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