The Lafer company is one of the most traditional furniture factories in Brazil, and still one of the strongest brands in the marketplace. It was founded in 1927 by Benjamin Lafer, the patriarch of this family business, whose aim was exploring the ever growing potential of furniture retail business in São Paulo. Along the time, the brand Lafer became a reference for quality furniture.
Lafer started manufacturing after the current partners inherited the company, following the death of the founder, back in 1960. Percival Lafer, one of the four brothers who jointly decided to work together in the family operation, became the man in charge of design and product development. At the time, he was concluding his degree in Architecture at the Mackenzie University in São Paulo. His motto, since day one, was innovation. Every design should reflect state-of-the-art technologies applied to innovative ideas. Contemporary designs intended for the mass market; every design should be different and original, therefore patented. The factory was named Lafer MP, the initials MP meaning Moveis Patenteados, Portuguese for Patented Furniture.
A sequence of products, mostly armchairs and sofas at first, were launched in a row of market successes. The factory grew fast, and soon new departments were created in its own premises to support the development of new ideas and materials. Beyond woodworking and upholstery , new sectors were added: a steelwork department for the construction of metal frames, a production chain for molded polyurethane foams, and a fiberglass department, envisaging the production of sculptured armchairs and sofas.
The fiberglass division, which was at first created to make furniture only, opened the imagination for areas other than furniture. At that stage, the Brazilian National Telephone Company was willing to expand the network of public telephone booths around the country. Lafer, together with the company designers, developed, and later produced the telephone booths that became very popular all over the country, under the nickname of “Big Ears”.
The next step was a mostly unexpected project: the development of an automobile, with lines inspired on the classic 1952 MGTD sports car. The design challenge was keeping the flair and charisma of the original MG, at the same time using modern mechanical components and functional details. The goal was to produce a modern car, aimed for daily use, not a replica car. A first prototype was presented with great impact in the 1972 Brazilian Auto Show, and its official launch in April 1974. Circa 4000 vehicles were produced between 1974 and 1990, when its production came to an end. Today, a number of MP Lafer clubs around the world keep alive the image of the car. Two websites are entirely dedicated to the MP: www.mplafer.com and www.mplafer.net
The recliner age came later. The first attempts started in the eighties, and never stopped. Today, Lafer has the world’s most original and comprehensive project in the field, the G3 project.
Percival Lafer dedicates most of his time to create new products. The passion for architecture could not be exerted in full, due to his total dedication to the family business, but a number of houses were designed for some of his personal friends. As a hobby, an old passion, cultivated since childhood, deconstructing and then rebuilding cars. Toys at first, real ones later.