Founded in 1873, the school Liceu De Artes e Oficios was inspired by the European Art & Crafts movement. Aimed at training qualified labor in the field of design, carpentry and metalworking, the school supported a generation of young designers able to combine high levels of craftsmanship with modern design, while offering fine furniture marketed under the label of Liceu de Artes and Oficios to the Brazilian market.
The institution was created in 1873 by a group belonging to the elite of coffee aristocrats who intended to form specialized labor for a possible future industrialization of the country, according to the positivist ideal that preached the “dignity of man through work”.
Initially it took the name “Propagator Society for People Instruction”. During its early years, it was not intended to promote professional education. Nightly courses of first letters and Arithmetic, among others, were lectured for adults and children. Since then, however, there was already a Superior Council (chaired by the Director Leôncio de Carvalho) which represented the elite of Sao Paulo at that period.
After seven years, the Superior Council decided to completely reformulate the institution and turn it into a technical school. By then, the school had not yet a head office nor curriculum guidelines and the model adopted for the new institution was the European experiences of schools of Arts and Crafts (idealized by William Morris). The Arts and Crafts Movement had already been happening in Europe for some time and preached the value of the manual work of craftsmen in the capitalist industry.
With the adoption of the name Lyceu de Artes e Officios, the new model began to be applied and courses of carpentry, locksmiths, cast, design, among others, were lectured, in the spirit of bourgeois positivist-Arts and Crafts.
From 1890, architect Francisco de Paula Ramos de Azevedo took the direction of the Liceu, and was responsible for a new reform of the school curriculum and administration that would make it thrive in an unprecedented manner.
Ramos de Azevedo was also a founder of Polytechnic School of the future University of Sao Paulo, and brought from Belgium an entrepreneurial spirit that would meet the interests of the Superior Council. From his reform on, the students of the school began receiving financial support for the work they produced. This work would carry the brand of quality of the school and sold throughout the country. With this model, the LAOSP has become self-sufficient and independent.
The school’s financial prosperity enabled the creation of a permanent head office. In 1897 the Technical Office Ramos de Azevedo started the project the Praça da Luz building, which was never completely concluded, but was delivered in 1900. This building, through an agreement with the State of Sao Paulo, would be shared between the newly created LAOSP and the art gallery Pinacoteca do Estado de Sao Paulo.