Riva- Brazil’s Pele of design

riva-1-william ashley Riva, founded in Brazil, has conquered the world to become an international leader in the design of stainless steel and silver plated objects. In addition to Studio Riva, an in-house design lab, the company has developed partnerships with architects and industrial designers, fostering young international talent. We spoke to the captivating design lead and owner, Rubens Simoes, at his office in Caxias do Sul.

You were a water polo player in the eighties who won a scholarship to UCLA. How does a sports guy end up designing stainless and silver plated objects? I studied at P.U.C. Design College in Rio before I moved to California, so design was my first interest. I had a chance to go to California to study economics and in Beverley Hills I bought a silverware caddy for my mother. She was ill and could not visit me, but at home, still loved to set a beautiful table. My father (who owned retail stores in the capital) challenged me to replicate the caddy and promised to buy them for his stores. It took a year to produce ten pieces.

Wow, that takes patience. Was there a designer who most inspired you? Yes, Mies Van Der Rohe, I liked his design, very clean. In Brazil it is very hard to make these (minimalist) products because everything is done by hand. The slightest imperfections are noticeable when pieces are silver-plated and finished. When I started making the silverware caddy, I had to learn thirty different processes to achieve the look. I moved from Rio to in Caxias do Sul, a region close to Paraguay, because this is where there are skilled craftsmen to make the designs.

You have a unique partnership with William Ashley and designers around the globe, is it true that you still follow the making of each one of your objects? The designers who work with me are Brazilian and European as well. We have even partnered with I.E.D., one of the best schools in Italy to nurture Brazilian talent. Riva’s objects have also won international design prizes such as the Red Dot awarded ice bucket. I still make sure that every process of every item is perfect that is true.

What’s trending for fall at Riva? We have come up with an amazing satin copper finish that does not tarnish and a carbon (matte black) finish for our stainless items, which we will be debuting in Paris this fall. We want to bring modern design to functional objects- that is our goal.