By Kate Rintoul, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL — Creative talents in Rio have been taking studios in the former Bhering coffee factory for years, but recently the artistic hub has taken on a more commercial role as a showroom where the public can buy original design and art. The monthly opening is once again adding an option for appreciating art in the Cidade Maravilhosa this weekend on September 13th – 14th.
Currently eighty sculptors, painters, photographers, artisans and small entrepreneurs, occupy the 16,000 square meter building in the Santo Cristo area of Centro. Part of what has made Fábrica Bhering so attractive to artists, apart from the cheap rents (that were once as low as R$25 per meter) is the opportunity to collaborate with a range of creatives working in other disciplines.
Based on the first floor of the factory complex, a great example of this creative entrepreneurship is the shared studio space-cum mid-century design shop C’Vintage. The shop is run by three friends who work in different design roles: fashion stylist Angela Brito, along with Felipe Vargas and Fernando Ribeiro who both work as architects and furniture designers.
Life in Fábrica Bhering has not always been easy, in 2012, the factory was auctioned and eventually sold for R$11.63 million with the tenants threatened with eviction. For now the future of the space seems safe and the upshot of the troubles is that in defending their role in Rio’s rich creative scene, many of those working here have become more engaged with the public, through special events and the newly launched monthly open house.
Thaïs Campanella de Siervi is a fine art ceramicist who has been working in Bhering for many years. Along with fellow potters she created a beautiful rooftop studio, investing a lot of their own money and time and sharing the costs of equipment like the kiln.
While it has always been important for de Siervi to have a studio – making ceramics at home with two children would have been near impossible. The opening up of the factory is also helping her engage with a new audience.
“A lot of the design shops only take your work on a sale or return basis, so there’s a risk with leaving your work without any deposit, especially if you work with delicate ceramics that they could be damaged. With this system you also don’t get to see what people think of your work and tell them about how it was made and even how it is priced.”
Through events like “Around the Factory” in which de Siervi and many other Bhering artists ran workshops with locals from a nearby favela community, with a public exhibition, she has enjoyed teaching people about her work and making sales to visitors.
A demonstration of the changing face of factory Bhering is the recently opened Café da Fábrica a recently opened cafe/restaurant run by Marcelle Morizot and Anna Paula Bokel who have been making sweet treats at Bhering since 2011. Opened two months ago, the cafe is decorated in a pared down industrial minimalism, with some of the furniture sourced from other Bhering studios and is a great place to mull over design decisions or just soak up the creative atmosphere.
What: Fábrica Bhering Open House
When: September 13 – September 14, 2014
Where: Rua Orestes, 28 – Antiga Fábrica Bhering, Santo Cristo, Centro, RJ