Cristina Covello

Cristina Covello

Date: November 2008 – February 2009

Designer: Cristina Covello

Craftsman: José Godinho Ferreira (Zeca)

Material: Reclaimed Peroba Rosa

Location: Botucatu, Sao Paulo State

experiencias_cristina Canadian designer Cristina Covello was awarded a grant from the Ontario Arts Council to participate in the exchange, “Botucatu/Toronto”.  Coordinated by Silvia Sasaoka, this project was designed to bring together two professionals with experience in wood: Cristina Covello and the artist and craftsman José Godinho, known as Zeca. The proposal was to create environmentally and economically sustainable products that were both decorative and useful.

The Concept

An estimated 40 tonnes of solid waste are thrown away each day in the landfills surrounding Botucatu.  The “Botucatu/Toronto” project was based on finding a solution to this problem of solid waste disposal.

The Material

Peroba Rosa, a local wood, was the main raw material for the furniture and objects created by the duo.  The wood came from the demolition of old painted farm houses, storage shacks and train stations.

The Beginning

The first week was dedicated to visiting local artisans and suppliers to learn about all the materials and resources that could be used for the project.  However, it wasn’t until Zeca showed Cristina his invention for washing the reclaimed wood that the project really took off.  Zeca has built a machine that uses steel brushes and water to clean the wood before it is used.  The process reveals the variations in each board and makes the different colours and textures of the wood come to life.

The Process

Zeca showed Cristina a stool he had made previously that used angled cuts and an iron bar to form curves.  From this technique, she developed designs that would become the “Botucatu/Toronto” collection.  The idea was to use Zeca’s technique but update the designs to reach the high-end design market.

Initially, Zeca was skeptical by Cristina’s enthusiasm for the variegated, painted surfaces that remain on the boards once the wood is washed.  So, Cristina proposed that they each make a stool, one with Zeca’s vision of pristine boards, the other with Cristina’s idea of multicoloured boards, to see which one they both preferred.  Zeca ended up choosing the technique developed by Cristina!  Now, it was clear what the collection would be: a stool, a bench, a coffee table, and three sizes of the mirrors using the same materials and techniques.


In addition to his “washing machine”, Zeca’s equipment includes a table saw, jointer, planer, shaper and many hand tools.  He does not have a band saw, circular saw, or lathe.

The Result

The “Toronto/Botucatu” project culminated in an exhibition at Galeria OVO, an internationally renowned design gallery and showroom in Sao Paulo.  At the exhibition opening Zeca and Cristina participated in a round table discussion that addressed the importance of the collaborative design process as well as their personal experiences as program participants.

Currently, the “Toronto/Botucatu” products are available exclusively through Galeria OVO.