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Capim Dourado. The Brazilian ‘gold’

Davide Dulcetti IM Masters Design Academy Eindhoven 2008

Another example of inverse flow of status, is the Havaianas flip-flops. Originally used by poor people in Brazil, it went to the mainstream by means of the close contact between the rich and the poor, ending up being sold world wide.

Capim dourado is a straw from Brazil. It can only be found in a northern region called Jalapao, and not in any other place in the whole world.

It’s unique characteristic is to be shiny as gold. Local artisans claim the capim dourado as ‘their’ gold.

So far, the capim dourado is used for local craft product. It ends up having a crafty, ‘natural’ look. How to give a new life to this unique material?

How to add value to his material? Of course, if it is sold at H.Stern, Brazil’s famous jewelry shop, it would reach it’s status fast. But what is status in this country?


Upper class

An interesting social phenomenon happens in Rio de Janeiro. The slum, or favela is just so close to luxury condominiums that, even if they are divided by an invisible wall, influences on behaviour travels from one world to the other. Status becomes a tricky word.

Flow of the Globalization trend on Rio

Some of the influences of this globalization flow, is the passion from the people of the favelas towards Nike, Adidas, and Puma tenis shoes.

In the other hand, the favela also have their trend flow towards society. Music from the ghetto, from the favelas, it’s slang, it’s “sly” way of being and it’s dance is...

...copied by upper classes. The same music is played in their houses and night clubs. The dance and body language is imitated, going towards the main stream.

Flow of the favelization trend on Rio

But it’s not only the music and the dance that goes from the favelas to the society. Fear and respect to drug dealers also flow together. They are seen as leaders in their communites. Their life style is desired by many. Power, women, money, Nike shoes, and of course, the shiny element, gold (or almost gold).

Souvenirs are a historical gift. Leaders from different places and time always received them, where after the gift would be always admired by the rest. Why not bring back this tradition also to this scenario?

Capim dourado necklace

The souvenir

The criminality in Rio de Janeiro got to a point where people don’t know who is the authority anymore. If the power is with the police force, or with the drug dealers. This souvenir unfortunetely goes to one of the most powerful and and respectful persons in town, the drug dealer.

The inverse status flow

In a city dominated by fear and violence, the tourist does not know beforehand that one person is killed per day by accident in Rio, due to “lost� bullets from battles between drug dealers and the police.

Numbers of tourists robbed are not informed by the Rio de Janeiro’s government. But at least every week tourists that have been robbed are reports in the newspapers. Some times kidnapped, sometimes...killed.

The police in Rio de Janeiro is so violent and corrupt, that statistics show that people fear less drug dealers than police man.

Capim Dourado necklace: a souvenir from Brazil, representing it’s uniqueness as a material. What it was suppose to be normal straw, gains value due to it’s scarcity and it’s peculiar similiraty with gold. Even more value is added to the piece itself, when it will be first used and trend-setted by the most hip and powerful person in Brazil.

Capim dourado necklace - booklet  

Capim dourado necklace. Design Academy Eindhoven, 2008.

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