It was a big hit in the beginning. Visitation to the store was almost a daily vernissage.
Soon after celebrating his graduation, in 1952, Sergio was divided, for a time, between Rio de Janeiro and his work in Curitiba. He had an apartment in the capital of Paraná, and considered the office's location very good. He developed a great friendship with his assistants, architect colleagues, and engineers. He was in charge of the Departments Palace, a 30-floor building. Passionate about the work, he had "wonderful ideas."
Work was going full steam ahead when architects and engineers were called to a meeting. They learned that the money for the works had ran out because of the poor coffee harvest that year, that it was a tragedy, and that the project would not continue. Sergio had a daughter, Ângela, who was born in Rio de Janeiro, and the family spent a lot of money traveling from one city to the other.
However, as he had anticipated that the work might be interrupted, Sergio decided, in the meantime, to open a furniture store, since the movement at the Civic Center attracted a lot of people to work there who could be potential customers. While going back and forth, he had met the Italian designer Carlo Hauner, who had gone to Curitiba to open a branch of a large furniture store there used to be in São Paulo. Sergio had also met decorator Julio Senna, who was creating the ambiance at the Governor's Palace. Contact with the two opened the door for him to create interior equipment and "adjust it properly to the Brazilian reality."
"I went crazy with that. Having a connection with someone from Italy and doing more intensive work was phenomenal." Sergio and Carlo, together with his brother Ernesto Hauner, became partners and stayed at the "furniture boutique," which had the same name as the other one in São Paulo: Móveis Artesanal. The difference was that, in Curitiba, Paraná, it was called Artesanal Paranaense. To open the store with his partners, Sergio asked for help from his grandmother Stella, who had sold the little castle and could afford her grandson's shop.
In Icatu's book about Sergio Rodrigues, André Seffrin describes life in Curitiba at the time the designer opened his store: "The Curitiba of the early 1950s, from the intellectual viewpoint, was that of Dalton Trevisan winning over his first Brazilian readers [...]. It was the Curitiba of Glauco Flores de Sá Brito, a poet, playwright, and television man; of Poty Lazzarotto and of Guido Viaro, in the graphic arts and painting; of Themistocles Linhares and Wilson Martins, the voices of a new criticism and of a new view on history [...]. Eating chicken stew at the Santa Felicidade restaurants, slicing pine nuts in winter, temperatures below freezing." During this period, Sergio bought his first car, a German VW Beetle, which he later took to São Paulo.