Rafael Studart, a designer from Ceará, has been entrusted with a more than symbolic mission: to develop the chairs that will be used by Pope Francis during his visit to Canada. In all, Raphaël directed the creation of eight pieces, one for each place where the pontiff will pass.
The Pope’s visit to Canada is part of a process of acknowledgment of the genocide and cultural erasure of Canada’s Indigenous peoples, to which leaders of the Catholic Church were directly linked. The country even recorded the discovery of schools containing the bones of indigenous children in 2021.
- The shocking reports of residential schools where 6,000 Indigenous children died in Canada
- Pope visits Canada in July to apologize for abuses at Catholic boarding schools
A designer from Ceará comments on the opportunity to create a chair for the Pope, in Canada.
Rafael lives in Toronto, one of the main Canadian cities, where he works as a designer. He explained that he had the opportunity to develop the chairs through the company where he works, which offered to create the product, a service that he was responsible for leading.
“My creative process was relatively loose and chaotic at the same time, as we only had 50 days from first contact to delivery of the final pieces. The deadline was very short, especially considering a piece that had never been done before,” commented Rafael, an architect with a degree in graphic design.
“The project had some specificities because, from an ergonomic point of view, it is a slightly different chair. The Pope has a knee problem, so the chair is higher than a normal chair, the arm is higher and a bit wider, the seat is shorter, a series of problems that were not standard. So we had to work on that. But from the aesthetic point of view or the conceptual proposal of the chair, we were very free”, explained the native of Ceará.
Considering the reason for the Pope’s visit, Rafael said the creative team was mindful of trying to balance the design of the final model with features that implied the moment.
Details of the chairs developed by Rafael Studart for the visit of Pope Francis to Canada. — Photo: Rafael Studart/Reproduction
“For us, it was very important that the president be solemn, be a sober president in this aspect, because the reason was very serious. And also that it was, in a way, simple, simple without being simplistic, because the goal was never for the chair to be the reason to catch the eye,” explained the designer.
With this, the direction was to work with natural forms, such as arches, which also refer to the architecture of Catholic churches and cathedrals. The woods are all native to Canada, which are maple and oak; and the fabrics used were also natural. In addition, the chair set has been developed with large wooden planks, to reinforce the aspect of the connection between indigenous peoples and the land.
“We were fortunate to work with Shawn Vincent, who is a graphic designer of ‘Métis’ ancestry, which is one of the first tribes of Indigenous people in Canada. He has developed amazing graphic work for the Pope’s visit campaign, which he calls ‘Walking Together’ (in Portuguese),” the designer said.
“We managed to apply these graphics that drink to the iconography of indigenous people in the chair. So we have carvings on some chairs and embroidery on all the others,” Rafael added.
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