during the 2015 edition of new york design week, brazilian artist and designer david elia, founder of design da gema, has realized a poignant and symbolic installation that serves as the backdrop for this year’s café at collective design fair. ‘rio de janeiro, may 2014’ delves into the epidemic of violent crime occurring within the city, sourcing  research and data concerning urban brutality coupled with his own experiences and surroundings in modern-day brazil.

‘rio de janeiro, may 2014’ delves into the epidemic of violent crime occurring within the city
all images courtesy of design da gema



elia began by studying criminal events on the website ondefuiroubado.com.br, where website visitors are able to pinpoint the exact location and number of violent crimes that occurred in an area. honing in on rio during may 2014, elia learned of a total of 210 attacks in the single month that took place throughout the city.

the installation presents an artistic reinterpretation of documented crimes in rio



the installation presents an artistic reinterpretation of these documented incidents through the piercing of chairs, two large dining tables and main walls of the café interior. gold eyelets create bullet-like holes throughout the space, including the floor, each one representing one of those 210 attacks. these apertures are scattered throughout the space where fair attendees can sit, informing visitors of these shocking statistics by immersing them in the experience of inhabiting what feels like an alarming and dangerous place.


‘I try to interpret a social aspect through design, engaging and showing something about the daily lives of the people living in brazil’, elia tells designboom. ‘brazil is known for a lot of design that upcycles and reuses materials, so it was very important for me to showcase what artisanship of brazil is all about and go beyond that by trying to industrialize it.’

gold eyelets create bullet-like holes throughout the space



overall, elia realizes the social issues of brazil and its ongoing struggle with urban violence as a participatory artwork. the installation is intentionally set against an all-white backdrop, a paradox between the color’s symbolic reference to innocence, purity and hope and its presence on the official flag of rio.

each pierced point in the installation representing one of 210 attacks taking place in may, 2014 in rio

symbolic bullet holes are scattered throughout the space where fair attendees can sit



the installation makes use of his signature piece, molded monobloc ‘stray bullet’ chairs riddled with gold eyelets, to depict these crimes.


the ‘stray bullet’ series originated in 2010, beginning with conflicts between the military police and drug traffickers in rio, in which a number of innocent favelados fell victim to an unexpected and fatal crossfire. ‘I was deeply moved by the circumstances and was inspired to take the ubiquitous polypropylene monobloc chairs that line rio’s favela neighborhoods and riddle them with eyelet hardware that mimic bullet holes’, he describes. elia’s choice of an everyday plastic seat, somewhat of a social symbol for the inhabitants of the city, bridges awareness of violence on both a regional and an international level.

stray bullet chair and side table in black and white



the collection has expanded to include side tables in black and white and vases made from terracotta. a ‘bulletproof’ series emerged from elia’s ongoing study of violent crimes in rio and their effect of the urban landscape.

gold eyes pierce the plastic chair, alluding to bullet holes that swept brazilian neighborhoods in 2010

stray bullet side tables with gold and silver eyelets

the gold holes chronicle urban violence in the context of a functional object

the bulletproof side table expresses the urgency by brazilians to bulletproof their cars and homes as protection

empty used bullet shells pierce the surface of the crystal glass

the ‘trend’ of bulletproofing, directly related to the feeling of insecurity, is realized through the design of the table

david elia's stray bullet installation at collective design reflects crime in rio de janeiro
stray bullet vases explore another material common on the streets of rio: terracotta