An indoor-outdoor sanctuary in São Paulo, Brazil

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Urban Oasis

Interior Design: Juliana Vasconcellos
Text: Erika Heet
Photography: Filippo Bamberghi

It is relatively rare for a buyer to purchase a property without so much as a single physical visit, but these are rare times indeed. It is perhaps even less likely that the buyer, seeking an investment opportunity, falls in love with the location and decides to make it their home. This is what happened with Brazilian designer Juliana Vasconcellos’s clients, who purchased an apartment in the heart of bustling São Paulo. The young couple, based in Manhattan, were drawn to the outdoor aspect of the apartment, by modernist architect Pablo Slemenson, in a recently constructed building by the firm JHSF, best known for their work on the Fasano hotels in Brazil. “The couple wanted a Brazilian urban oasis, to feel like they were in the middle of nature even though they lived in a city like São Paulo,” Vasconcellos says.

To help achieve this, Vasconcellos and her team took back the living room footprint (the previous owner had carved out some for an extra bedroom), and borrowed from the extensive terrace lining the apartment to create a dining room and increase the size of the master bedroom. “The clients wanted a Brazilian touch, which is found throughout the apartment in the use of materials, a tropical garden outside and the presence of Brazilian modernist furniture,” Vasconcellos says.

As far as furniture design legacies go, Brazil is up there with the best in the world. Vasconcellos, who grew up in the impossibly beautiful Minas Gerais, surrounded by mountains in what she calls “a state of great history, culture and tradition,” is based in São Paulo, surrounded by design history, innovation and inspiration. She studied architecture in Belo Horizonte (or “beautiful horizon”) and founded a studio focusing on architecture, interiors and, influenced by Brazil’s rich heritage, furniture design. She selected a few pieces of her own design for this project, including the Espiral rug designed with Matheus Barreto in the living room, which, she says, “brings the colors of nature in a light and smooth way, breaking the straight lines in the apartment.” Just behind the living room’s Brazilian walnut room divider with pivoting slats that allow air and light in is the entrance hall, which holds her and Barreto’s Buffet Brut, “inspired by the repetition of geometric patterns present in Art Deco, with a simpler language.” Elsewhere, she sourced pieces from icons of Brazilian design—Sergio Rodrigues dining chairs, a Jean Gillon sofa, Jorge Zalszupin side tables, a chair by Giuseppe Scapinelli and a night stand by Geraldo de Barros. Even the somewhat lesser-known names, like the pair of J.D. Moveis e Decoracoes 1960s rosewood lounge chairs, are unmatched in their power.

Art is used sparingly and to great effect, such as the Martin Parr photograph above the buffet in the entrance hall, living room’s acrylic on wood rods by Livia Paola Gorresio, or the color-splashed Parr image over the bed. Here, nothing detracts from the main focus: the outside. With walls of glass that open completely to the lush tropical landscaping by Helô Botelho, the living room and bedroom exist as part of the garden just beyond. “The project prioritized the layout opening to the outdoor garden, bringing the feeling of a house, not an apartment, with all the doors retracting, integrating all spaces,” Vasconcellos says. Juliana Vasconcellos, julianavasconcellos.com

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