Artist-designer David Elia was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1982. He 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 (both in Massachusetts). In 2007, Elia was awarded 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, Elia worked as a junior designer for the Campana Brothers at their São Paulo studio. That same year, he established his own studio—Design da Gema—in Rio de Janeiro. In 2012, the atelier moved to Monte Carlo, Monaco. Currently, the studio is located in London.
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, and poor urban infrastructure. Standout projects to date include the 2011 Stray Bullet and 2013 Bulletproof collections. Elia’s work is included in multiple collections, including the Francois Pinault Collection, Paris and the Paula Cussi Latin American Art Collection, Monte Carlo. He is the recipient of an A Prime Design Award (2011) and an IF Materials Design Award (2010).