Architecture, Art, and Amor

Foreign correspondent Carolina Nery is a partner at the firm OKAarquitetura in São Paulo. She provides an insider's view on interior design and architecture in Brazil.

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When we talk about what is currently happening in architecture and interior design in Brazil we must also talk about history as well.

Around the 60´s, during the time when Brazil had a repressive military dictatorship, students and intellectuals tried to expose indignity against the government. For 20 years actors, painters, singers, architects and others were being forced into exile.

Not long before this, Brazil´s capital, Brasília was designed by Lucio Costa with Le Corbusier participation, with a distinct modern - postmodern influence. Another brilliant architect who brought architectural elements into a Brazilian architecture was Oscar Niemeyer.

Around this same time, the city of  São Paulo started to become a big player in the economy of Brazil thanks to the commerce of the coffee industry. This caused São Paulo to become a cultural pool, a center of economy and politics.

During 1964 to 1985 a civil war dominated Brazilian streets. It was only after this difficult period that arts and culture started again to slowly come back to life. Immigration from Europe and Japan also influenced the cultural environment of São Paulo.

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I believe today we have finally begun to recreate a free cultural language; intellectuals and artists are on the streets doing their work and manifesting their desire for a better place to live. We are part of several movements started by groups located in different parts of the country promoting a renewed self-confidence and constant innovation.

To better understand this it is important to take our practice as an example:

The architect’s mission today is to discover a better way to live based in many influences, while keeping in mind the Brazilian design for Brazilian people. Brazilians are very happy people, we love parties and are very down to earth. With this knowledge we make use of fundamental principles in order to develop several "down to earth" projects.

We take as our primary project reference the essence of each client. By interacting, integrating, and exchanging information we begin to understand their needs. We say this is a process of love interwoven to our creative being; art applied into technique to develop a humanist design.

Indeed, you can think this was the process of our ancestors before architecture became a business commodity.

Now, thanks to technology, there is an abundance of information and people joining to create a new concept of architecture and design. When we talk about joining we talk about using the language of art, the same process applied in the creative process.

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We have a team of people who are idealists too; we are part of a kind of artists collective. Part of this concept is to link art and architecture in order to help us better understand the needs of our clients. Does this sound a bit different?

We consider real architecture and design to use part of what people believe and what is important in their lives. We start from a hand drawn concept to collect different studies from feelings and techniques concerning world issues. We praise the environment, using ambient and surroundings as a main input, preserving our origins and culture by inserting ourselves into the urban environment. Our work intends to create sensations similar to painting, music, performance and arts in general. We believe in love between people.

Designers are very creative; we use objects, furniture, fixtures and fabric made from our local natural resources, looking for sustainability. In our mind, to be sustainable means much more than to buy ecofriendly equipment. It also means living healthy, improving the quality of life, knowing our local culture and using the resources that surround us.