Using references to Brazilian slums to brand luxury items as Brazilian.

In Favelization, a book originally published by the Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum, Adriana Kertzer sets out to understand the ways in which specific producers of contemporary Brazilian culture capitalized on misappropriations of favelas (informal squatter settlements that grow along the hillsides and lowlands of many Brazilian cities) in order to brand luxury items as "Brazilian." Through case studies that look at films, fashion, and furniture design, she explains how designers and filmmakers engage with primitivism and stereotype to make their goods more desirable to a non-Brazilian audience.

Favelization looks at the films Waste Land and City of God, shirts designed by Fernando and Humberto Campana for Lacoste, and furniture by Brunno Jahara and David Elia. Kertzer argues that the processes of interpretation, transcendence and domination are part of the favelization phenomena.

The book locates design as part of a broader constellation of representations that includes a variety of forms from printed media to film. It provides visual and material analyses, as well as theoretically discussions that draw on works by scholars in cultural and postcolonial studies such as John Tagg, Edward Said, Mariana Torgovnick, Mike Davis, and Trinh T. Minh-Ha. While focused on favelization, this work raises questions about the ethical conundrums associated with using the “Other” in commercial design work.



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