Broyhill Mardella — bringing the famous design lines of Broyhill Brasilia to a new generation of furniture buyers

Plus: An exclusive Q&A with Fran Scheller,
Broyhill’s Director of Design and Merchandising,
on development of the Brasilia-inspired line

BROYHILL_Mardella_bedroomBreaking News: Broyhill Furniture is in the process of releasing a new line of case goods that are reminiscent of the beloved vintage Brasilia line. Their new line, Mardella, marries classic Brasilia cues with contemporary furniture trends. Lisa Hanly, Vice President, Corporate Communications and Public Relations — who helped us with another recent story featuring vintage Broyhill Brasilia and Sculptra furniture — provided us with a bundle of photos following the line’s introduction to retailers at the High Point Fall Furniture Market, which concluded last week.

Moreover, we have an exclusive Q&A with Fran Scheller, Director of Design and Merchandising for Broyhill. We had asked Lisa if she could give us the “back story” of the design of this new line, and she provided this response in Q&A format:

Many of the pieces in the Mardella collection have touches of Brasilia’s signature swooping arch design — such as the door on the dresser above. Also note that the drawer fronts are beveled — and the bevels are not rectangles — they have a slight curve to the sides.

1.  Why is this the right time to bring back elements of Brasilia?

In uncertain times, we tend to return to our roots.  Today, vintage rules, but with an updated twist .  The popularity of Mad Men may have started the trend, but the American consumer who shops yard sales and vintage clothing will shop for that special piece. Brasilia’s style remained in many people’s memories and for others, it’s fresh and brand new.

mardella night stand
Mardella night stand

2. What elements of Brasilia did we incorporate into Mardella?

Scheller: The “off the floor” base of the cases and the signature sweep overlay on the door chest and panel bed are elements from Brasilia that we thought would translate today.

3. How long have we been working on the idea of re-inventing Brasilia?

We started about three years ago, but put the project on hold until about six months ago.

4. Were we aware of the Brasilia fans who buy from vintage shops and items on eBay?

Yes, we were contacted by a Brasilia collector who asked about the possibility of purchasing additional pieces.  We found an end table at a flea market and brought the table back to the office and things got going from there!

5. Describe Broyhill’s history and anything about Brasilia’s original designer.

Brasilia was designed by a team of Broyhill’s in-house designers in 1962. The collection was based on the “Palace of the Dawn” which was the residence of the President of Brazil.  The collection was described as “the last word in contemporary elegance” and “destined to remain fresh and provocative for years.”

6. Did we use drawings or anything from the original Brasilia work for Mardella?

We referred to the original furniture catalogue that we have in our archives.

7. How is Mardella perfect for today’s consumer who likes elements of the past but wants new furniture?

Shape is everywhere in the Mardella collection, especially in the bases and in the silhouette of the platform bed. The sexy “off the floor” bases and  the striking use of quartered walnut veneer borders on the case fronts are unique and gorgeous. There is added function in the pivot cocktail  table, making it very versatile.  Storage is a focus with our 16” drawer depths.  The Mardella collection is a total room solution with upholstery coordinated to perfectly work with the occasional pieces.

8. When will Mardella be in stores?

May  2013

Thank you, Fran and Lisa, it’s great to hear a bit about the behind-the-scenes development of this new line.


From the press release:

Elegant in its simplicity, mid-century influenced Mardella in walnut veneers with a warm cognac finish is an eight-piece collection characterized by clean shapes, straight edges and smooth lines. A signature piece in this collection is a low-profile platform bed with gentle curved side rails. A panel bed, six-drawer dresser with vertical mirror, a combination door and drawer dresser with landscape mirror, a five-drawer chest and a door chest along with door and drawer nightstands round out the collection.








design of pulls in broyhill brasilia
See how the door pulls are “knifed” in, in the original Brasilia design

The door nightstand is perhaps my favorite piece in the Mardella collection — probably because it has the most Brasilia influence per square inch. It reminds me of the vintage Brasilia commodes that I use as my nightstands. Pam adds a nit: She says that she wishes the pulls on the doors were recessed (“knifed”?, is that the word?) at the top, as they were in the original designs (see image at right); she says she finds the pulls sitting on the overlay a bit clumsy compared to the originals. Although, she does admit it’s hard to be “objective” when you are so into the originals. We recognize that Mardella is meant to be a fresh interpretation — not a faithful reproduction.


Above: We saw the headboard in the lead photo, but here’s another image that gives us another angle on the Brasilia-inspired overlays on the headboard — nice.


The Mardella collection also has pieces for the living room — media consoles, end tables and coffee tables.




I could see using the chairside table above as a nightstand in bedrooms where space is limited — since it is much narrower than the door nightstand.




It is great to see a revival of some of the classic vintage furniture lines — whether faithfully reproduced or re-imagined for today’s market.

  1. Annie B. says:

    Thank you thank you, Broyhill! Even the lightest touches of retro modern styling in new furniture lines thrills me. So happy to see these products. Glad that the upholstery is made in the Old North State.

  2. lynda says:

    Hmm.. maybe the mcm trend is fading. Whenever a design goes main stream, something else becomes “in”. It is a lovely look and nice for those wanting a contemporary look. Broyhill certainly is doing a good job keeping up on the trends. I wonder if other manufacturers will follow with mcm designs?

    1. pam kueber says:

      no! i think it’s stronger than ever. moreover: is vintage of all sorts. vintage-eclectic. I need to do a story on this!

      1. lynda says:

        I would agree that vintage eclectic is popular. Mixing well designed old and new pieces will never be out of style. And, even if the mcm is going “main steam”, it usually takes another 10 to 15 years for people to tire of the look. There will always be some that do not want a look once it becomes common and popular. This happened to granite counters. Once they became common, some people moved on to something else.

  3. Max says:

    I was excited to see the headline, and I really want to love the new stuff, but I just don’t. The arch theme is more tacked on than a true element of the furniture. The pictures are too photoshopped to really judge the finishes, but it seems like they are going to be very glossy. I don’t know, just feels off to me. I would love to see them in person and eat my words though, until then who knows. I’m glad to have an original Brasilia bedroom set.

  4. Chris M. says:

    Ok, I’ll say it. I am glad they were inspired by the old design but I think they totally missed the mark. I think they’re ugly and heavy. It’s a shame too, if the line isn’t successful, the conclusion will be drawn that reproductions of midcentury designs don’t sell. I don’t think that’s true–I think bad design doesn’t sell and that’s the real thing that’s going on here.

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