On the 21st of January 2011, Brazil was the subject of a conference at the Royal College of Art in London: “Brazil: the cultural contemporary”. The aim of the conference was to inform the UK-based audience about Brazil’s visual culture, with a focus on areas of craft, design and social change.

In recent years, Brazil has been garnering attention from the international community for being one of the fastest growing economies in the world (the B in BRIC). This platform at the Royal College of Art – RCA – is a mean of effective potential to create a global picture of Brazil, disconnected from the usual clichés.

The conference exposed subjects as design and social change, and much has been said about renown artists and designers in the international scene, such as the Campana brothers, Os Gêmeos, and others representing Brazil’s art, architecture and design through the past years. The relationship between craft and design was fully explored in many lectures providing the public with a better understanding of what Brazil has been producing in these fields.

Brazil is traditionally recognized for its agriculture, petro-chemical industry and vast natural resources, along with beautiful objects being created under the name of craft. Design and Arts are representing a significant role in amplifying the global perception towards the Brazilian’s cultural production. What is lesser known are the significant opportunities that are being created by applying design within the Brazilian’s industry.

There are many examples of companies archiving outstanding results in Brazil, by investing in design and Innovation. Just to mention some of them:

Melissa, a Brand from the southern Brazilian shoes company Grandene, has recently turned into a fashion icon all over the world. The association with national and international designers made it possible to create a desired object from basic plastic shoes, often displayed in shop windows in all five continents.

Brastemp (Whirpool in Brazil) is considered the No.1 home appliance brand within the Brazilian market. Is a trendsetter in technology, design and innovation and this fact is often expressed in the products, and in the way the brand communicate its ideas.

Fiat has a very important Design Centre placed in Brazil. It has recently presented at the Sao Paulo Auto Show 2010 the first collaborative designed car in the automotive industry. The concept car FIAT MIO was 100% designed in Brazil, with the collaboration of a large online community that had contribute with many ideas for the creation of the concept car.

Embraer is the 3rd biggest aircraft manufactory in the world and is now employing strategic design into their processes. They are making substantial investing in innovation and the Embraer’s “Cabin Confort and Design” program is a big sample of this initiative, which first stage, the Integrated Design Lab (IDL), supported and leaded by VRD RESEARCH, has already concluded (2008) and is emblematic of the pioneering nature of this program.

This is a tinny bit of what is happening in this field lately. At VRD we find it particularly relevant to work together with companies that believe in the relevance of investing in design and innovation, and by that defining, new ways to compete and present Brazil to the world.

As the Brazilian’s production of arts and crafts is already in focus, when we will have the possibility to and exchange ideas about the Brazilian’s high-level design and innovation production, in a series of lectures as the one recently hosted by the RCA?