David Elia


Artist-designer David Elia was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1982 with Lebanese origins. Elia’s work combines gambiarra—a Portuguese word that refers to a makeshift problem-solving style common to Brazil, generally necessitated by or alluding to a lack of tools and inspired by a tradition of resourcefulness as well as upcycling and Post-Minimalist tendencies. Additionally, much of Elia’s work addresses issues within Brazilian society, such as violence, security, drug trafficking, poor urban infrastructure and environmental degradation that have actually turned globally relevant.

David also draws upon Cultural hybridization, the blending of elements from different cultures. “ I feel that without cultural hybridization, the world we live in would not be anywhere near as interesting and integrated as it is today. By studying this phenomenon through iconography and material culture we can better understand how the melting pot of cultures from Europe, Africa and Asia shaped modern day Brazil as well as other countries worldwide.”

David has received critical acclaim in a variety of projects. He is one of the spearheads of new movements of creative hybrid professionals who offer innovative works, which mix the best of contemporary art and design.

Standout projects to date include the 2011 Stray Bullet and 2013 Bulletproof collections. In November 2014 his work was included in the exhibition “New Territories: Laboratories for Design, Art and Craft in Latin America” at the Museum of Arts & Design in New York. Elia’s Stray Bullet chair and Bullet Proof side table were chosen and recognized to position individuals and collaboratives in several distinct cities as laboratories where some of the most pertinent new directions in design and craft are emerging today.

David Elia attended the Harvard Graduate School of Design’s Summer Program in 2002, and received his Bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Brandeis University in 2004. In 2007 Elia earned a Master’s degree in interior architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). In 2009, he received a Master’s degree in design from Milan’s Domus Academy.

In 2010, David worked as a junior designer for the Campana Brothers at their Sao Paulo studio. That same year, he established his own studio in Rio de Janeiro. David now works and lives in Monaco and London where he has his new studio.

Elia’s work is included in multiple collections; the permanent collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the Museum of Arts & Design in New York, the François Pinault Collection, Paris and the Paula Cussi Latin American Art Collection, Madrid among others. He is the recipient of an A Prime Design Award (2011) and an IF Materials Design Award (2010).


  • Exhibitions


    New Territories: Laboratories for Design, Art and Craft in Global Latin America – Amparo Museum, Mexico

    New Territories: Laboratories for Design, Art and Craft in Global Latin America – Albuquerque Museum of Art, New Mexico


    Design da Gema: Manifeste Carioca – Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris
    Rio de Janeiro, May 2014 – Collective Design Fair, New York


    New Territories: Laboratories for Design, Art and Craft in Global Latin America – MAD Museum, New York


    “Bobina” Natural color Tray sold at the MoMA Design Store during Springtime – New York


    Collection “Stray Bullet” Chair present at the L&M Arts Gallery – New York
    Collection “Stray Bullet” Chair exhibited at the Hong Kong Artʼ Fair, L&M Arts – New York

  • Education


    MA Design, Domus Academy – Italy


    MIA, Masters Interior Architecture, Rhode Island School of Design – USA


    BA, Fine Arts, Brandeis University – USA


    Certificate Architecture, Harvard Graduate School of Design Summer Program – USA


    French Baccalaureat, L – Lycee Albert 1er – Monaco

  • Design Competitions & Art Residencies


    A’ Design Award in Arts, Crafts and Ready-Made Design for the tray artwork “Bobina” – Italy


    International Forum Materials Design Award for the project Capella Acoustic Tile – Germany


    Esther Pine Memorial Prize in Fine Arts – USA
    Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Arts Grant for the sculpture project Architectonica – USA

  • Public & Private Collections

    The François Pinault Collection – Paris, France

    Charity Auction by Brazil-Monaco Project, “Desmatamento” Chair sold for 18,000 Eur – Monte-Carlo, Monaco

    Paula Cussi Latin American Art Collection – Madrid, Spain

    Musée des Arts Décoratifs – Paris, France

    Museum of Arts & Design (MAD Museum) – New York, USA

    The Sir Elton John Art Collection – London, United Kingdom

  • Bibliography

    Kertzer. “Favelization”. Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, e-book. February 2014.

    Ramirez, Rangel, Perez and Sims. “New Territories: Laboratories for Design, Art and Craft in Global Latin America”. Turner. December 2014