I-hello from Sao Paulo. the best 9 “I-not” #artdesignbrazil trends

17Oct11

“Growth for the sake of growth is the philosophy of the cancer cell.”

– Edward Abbey

“Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.”
– the late eminent economist Kenneth Boulding.

“When Saquasohuh, the Blue Star Kachina dances in the plaza and removes his mask before the unintiated, this is the 9th sign.

-Hopi prophecy

I-somewhere, dancing on a verdant globe.

When the world is running down, it might look just like this. Endless mosaic ribbon snakes of small cars, attended by the poor, the homeless and circus performers squeezing everything, their homes, beds and grafitti, into every available crevice on the side, middle and on highways choked by traffic snarls, while the rich zoom overhead in their helicopters to and from supreme, pristine highly-paid for well-designed spaces. There, dancing in that opened Pandora’s box of Earth, Sensuality and Expanse hidden in lush planted sunlit parcels, are those with power for the practice of new realities, surrounded by the Earth’s battery  w i n d i n g…d  o   w    n.. . . . as the Amazon moans,crashes,burns and disappears under a blazing sun.

I-am in Mythic Brazil, Sao Paulo, city of 11 million people, invited to speak at an international design conference on our Art Intervention in Milan. Design? Design?

BOOMSPDESIGN 2011 is the name of the conference, bringing international artists, designers, architects, manufacturers and designers to present and mingle on their disciplines. Invited by the seven-league boots promoter Roberto Cocenza, I spoke about the urban art intervention project we did in Milan for April’s Salone, you can see more about that and other presenters, here on the Green Provocateur blog. The immersion into the maze of Sao Paulo, new architecture experiments such as Dror’s Magic Carpet island above, followed by a left brain Amazon jungle-side visit ….and crash course! The whole idea of “design” and design in Brazil for me went way beyond the trifecta of Niemayer, Campana Brothers and Marcio Kogan which most identify as art, design and Brazil.  Herewith are some trends I saw in Brazil as blueprints for the future. Visit our Twitter chat #artdesignbrazil for a taste, a little old-school Twitter on Machine Tech to envision an even Newer Technology being impulsed, Bio Tech, based on biology, which, as far as we know, at least for the next generation,

we will need these biology bodies and the Earth as umbilical cords to in order to operate said Machine Tech.

trend 1:   i propose “I-not.”

Yup, very Buddhist and very post-Steve Jobs. Very necessary millenium drop I-ego for Earth survival.

The eyes of the Soul of Everything is watching. Can we embrace a childlike exploring of technology of caring and consciousness to re-design what is slowly killing our planet?

The pillars for this idea came from a touch down into the edge of the jungle and a term heard at the conference:

not-architecture.

The genesis is Amory Lovins whom I first heard speak about Negawatt power. not-architecture. Architecture that disappears and melds into the surroundings, nature and community. A structure that binds and contributes because it’s principals, materials and laws are founded exactly on and in accordance with nature.

The value is less not more.

Hail to Rudolf Steiner to Bucky Fuller to Chad Oppenheim’s philosophic approach to an “non-technical” method of building…in the ways of ancients and in accordance and relationship to flora and fauna, weather patterns. Hail also to Japanese architects CAt, who survived the earthquake and came to Brazil to tell about it. Their design for this highly functional and inspiring “non-space” and a school based on L shaped walls to create open classrooms allowing energy and children to live in conversation with the surrounding forest…took in more and built less. Less is more.

I-not is actually a technology.

The technology of I-Not or Nothing holds Buddhism as its Papa and Nature as its Mama. I-not. We do belong to the Earth as caretakers, vs. exploitative, ravenous and thoughtless unconnected creatures. After Steve Jobs’ visionary planet cruise, I am only invested in a philosophy which sells answers via undoing the need and salve of buying, figuring things out based on old time motives.  Absorption by Nature vs. Naughty by Nature bypasses selfishness and fear. Taps into innate wisdom like seeing a surprising beautiful guru, a natural scene like this spectacular tree known as Tortoise tree, or Jaboticaba,with flowers and green little balls covering its limbs. This can make one drop all assumptions and know that the real universe is a work a bit larger than oneself, flowering, fruiting and prolificating like…wow.

Ideology based on personal assumption is headed to the graveyard. Which may just be our cities. This Graveyard for Carnival Props and Floats reminded me of the most potent image I bring forth from this trip:

On the side of a massive 12-lane highway maze, a half-naked, half ceremonially dressed dark skinned man with dreadlocks to his knees performed a slow and deliberate trance pantemime looking simultaneously like a Tai Chi warrior, a raindance shaman and/or just another homeless person living on the side of a highway doing a prancing dance of a man driven insane.

Not having an I-definiation for who or what or which of those he might be, will always be my image of Sao Paulo…its potential and its precarious edge.

But hey, we have trends to unravel and carry on about.

Herewith, just a few impressions of this Maze of a city. One photographer I met called it the “infinite city” and certainly a transverse of it lasting hour and 40 minutes from one end to the other with row upon row upon row of boxes, whether favelas (no windows) or tower boxes upon towers upon towers of square glass windows eyes blinking in the sun and the buzz-by of dragonfly helicopters. Yep, infinite.

trend 2:  I-not-online shopping: streets are gifts. gift box shops.

Get down. Down at ground level, Brazil’s boxes perhaps pay endless homage to the le Corbusier visits which began in 1929. While the golden triangle and green roofs would be welcomed aspects of his 5-points of architecture, the box formula partial to “white space” proportions, the use of simple materials such as concrete, and strong “ocean-liner” window concepts make for strong brand identity.  Like strips of gift boxes, unrelated at all to each other, the spirit of play reigns, although, truthfully, groundbreaking design in fashion, home or goods stamped with SP or Brazil is not to be found here on the high street. There are stellar exceptions, for which one must reveal thru an online surf before hitting the vast turf of SP and treading the streets.

The above proportion formula is repeated endlessly with color, texture, size variations. An exception, a design store intrigues at night with surface, neon and a sense of peeking under a door.

It turns out to belong to quintessential architect, designer Marcio Kogan’s Micasa Volume BStudioMK27, whom I interviewed later for Metropolis magazine, who gave, (no surprise) the most poetic, abstract, smarty answers on the rising of Brazil as a design leader.  In terms of the world’s urban architecture vernaculars, by default or design, this proportion is pleasing and may theoretically be the genesis of I-not urban architecture for its minimal material and form expression. Would it play in NYC? Think Apple store cube. Add solar, green roofs and grey water systems and maybe our cities might be trying vs. dying.

By day, my friend from Rio, Robert Landon, Lonely Planet and Telegraph UK writer, and I set out to explore the upscale neighborhood of Jardim Europa. A contrasting unforgettable image to the dancing Indian man here, was a super-tall, extremely handsome grey haired man with tall black riding boots taking massive Goliath strides down the street, I think leading a dog, it was all so astonishing, I can’t recall. (and if you want to see how I saw this exact image prior trip in a Jurgen Teller image…click here…except this Amazonian Europa was much more dashing!)

Above all, I wanted to see Alexandre Herchcovitch, (nice video there…make sure you see it) a favorite Brazilian designer of mine, with commadre Romanian heritage. Yes, the image of a biting vampire can fit his quirky expression.

trend 3:   I-not-kindling. books still matter. matter still matters.

The Livraria da Vila book store designed by Sao Paulo architect, Isay Weinfeld, was truly a gift. Weinfeld captured the way one enters what seems to be a square of paper and cardboard is actually like the turning bookcase, the classic secret turning bookcase or wardrobe to enter into vast mythic worlds.

Once inside you can fall into rabbit holes down to the children’s section for #2 perfection and #3 is the repeating motif of double lights like traffic lights. Why is it so good? It makes no sense yet is entirely sensible.

trend 4:  I-go-not-hungry. so satisfied by sao paulian gastronomi and partyin.

Cristallo coffee at their cafe with silvery wrapped chocolate spoons was surprise #1 and the second was bubbles of popping chocolate powder in the drink!

Brazil food. Moqueca fish stew. Bahia chicken in a curry sauce mushroom mousse. Pao de Queijo, cheese buns. White pizza chips. A massive buffet at the D&D Decoracao & Design Center restaurant (in Brooklin, another manifestation of SA’s US and Europe love) where we met in person, the powerhouse gals from Marcia Dadamos of MD,
Mariana Amaral Comunicacao, sister PR firms with Jade Dressler for BOOMSPDESIGN along with Vania from D&D. Viking sponsored a brunch party in their indoor/outdoor showroom where we feasted next.

In bright sun and an 80’s music chill backyard vibe with every perfect silver powerhouse bbq and outdoor range ware flexing themselves for the serving of serious Salmon Carpaccio, quinoa with tomatoes, scallions and greens wild. Grilled strawberries in balsamic vinaigrette and gelato spoons served in metallic beads of sugar were the gifts of the Viking Executive Chef on site, Luis Fernando Perin, who worked with Daniel Boulud, and now travels around the world with Viking. Casa Vogue here and watch this movie for more:

By night the crowds roamed to super lit cubes with graffiti for a lil house music sprinkled with a folk singer, champagne and caipirinhas at design store Marche and Coletivo Amor de Madre, for the launch of new Friendswithyou prints.

We met so many good people from around the world, convincing us of SP’s place as a global meeting ground.

Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval lll of Friends With You are the sort of guys you keep running into, over and over again, sharing some jokes and definitely feeling friends with you.

Their happiness is popping up all over too.
Glauco Diogenes is an earnest explorer of color and form, very upbeat and prolific. Looking forward to a NYC visit soon.

Triplets! Here I am with Francisco Spratley and Tiago Borges, two of the architects of Anywheredoor, instant friends from Barcelona but obviously brothers popped from the same womb as I.

Robert Landon, journalist and Chad Oppenheim, architect.Phuong-Cac Nguyen of coolhunting.com, revealed another peg in the “it’s a small world” tree. Her publicist for her book, Total Sao Paulo, is none other than Lynn Tejada, our LA partner at Green Galactic.

Esther Schattan of deluxe storage systems, Ornare, in deluxe grey velvet and Paul Clemence, artist.

Such a lovely girl, to match her coat…Patricia Toledo works as the SP point person with Zoe Melo, product developer for the likes of Tord Boontje, Hella Jongerius, Peter Stathis, Stephen Burks, Takeshi Ishiguru and Fernando & Humberto Campana.

King Dror of NYC and the owner of Marche, originally from Israel, who never stops smiling and Dror, who never has to smile to enchant.Renaissance designer of spaces both humorous and sublimely elegant, Guilherme Torres’ newly tatted arm and his space, which I could move into in a Hot Minute.

Here are the Gelato spoons and below this fruit herbal jelly gelatin thing with herbs fed to me in the jungle;-) that I cannot identify. But it was a friend’s mother who fed it to me, and I could identify her, so OK. Oi!

trend 5: I-not-on-a-track mind. sao paulo attracts an international crowd.

  From France, designer Mattali Crasset, like a pop-art scientist in a turquoise lab coat with white straps on one wrist and a black cuff on the other presented her designs such as her Feral Houses. Next up. she exhibits at Paris’s Pompidou Museum.

From Japan, architects, Kazuhiro Kojima and Kazuko Akamatsu, otherwise known as CAt, spoke about influences such as movements of air, they showed lots of arrows and concerns not just one big flow, when they thought about air.  They spoke of the flow of light, wind walls and the change by movement of sun. For a school, they considered sounds, the surrounding forest and activity of children and how visions and experiences of all were corralled in by moveable L-shaped walls.

Dror’s Nurai project for an island in Abu Duabi, was inspired by the idea of magic carpet….lifted for treasures. The island remains pristine, buildings cooled by green overhead, materials and systems all in consideration of the Island eco-system.

trend 6: I-not-techno brilliance. Chad Oppenheim.

What an honor to meet Chad Oppenheim, whose star goes on my wall with other brilliant yet very grounded people I am thrilled to know. Another 70’s kid from New Jersey like me who has a one track mind to the integrated world, Chad designs masterful cantilevered pools in LA for superstars like Director, Michael Bay, houses in Mustique for David Bowie and hotels in the desert rocks in Jordan… all by asking how to replace nature that is replaced by building.

“People bring me to sites and I don’t want to build and mess up the land!”

My I-pad notes from Chad’s presentation at BOOMSPDESIGN are full of I-not-architecture turn-on terms, literally like this: Infrastructure, porous wind turbines. Surfers paradise. Rainforest trees inside. Habitats in terraces.Tidal energy generation explode.Technology of simplicity. Roof camouflage to make structures disappear within the environment, designing closed loop of energy. Working with locals to create economy. Abt experience not form.

Chad Charts the entire biological system before building.

For the Wadi Run Resort in Jordan, Chad took eight hours to walk around the landscape, within a hour of where one of the seven wonders of the earth, Petra was built into the rocks.

The not-architecture follows the occupying shadows for placement and the arising forms are abstracted natural form.

Much has been debated about projects like these, however, Chad’s direction is entirely in tune to the environment, beyond just the surface beauty. From the official statement…”The resulting experience is sensual and sensitive, intentionally reduced to what is essential, establishing an ancient connection with the universe through simple, elemental forms, sincere materiality/detailing, and the use of bountiful natural resources both physical and ethereal. Nature accelerated, enhanced and embraced; nature nurtured.”

From my notes, poetic…describing the spa…Use of cisterns. To use the water. Candlelight.

Is it surprising that back home I have candles set by an intriguing favorite image of a man kissing his camel at Petra with some fantasy photoshopped jungle next door?

trend 6:   I-cultivate + harvest. my own sustainable wood from my own forest.

Visiting the serene oasis, Etel was the best example of a visionary closed loop business. Etel owns and maintains the forests that supply the woods for their furnishings and you can feel it. The space is designed so light, woods and objects sit nobly like trees in a forest. No surprise to see longtime customer Chad Oppenheim shopping here when we visited. (definitely a reach item however, for amusement I asked the NY showroom for a quote on a barstool and at $2800. per, trust those 4 babies shall be carted home in an Ikea box via taxi. Sigh…I am a recycling fiend so maybe that equalizes.) And do excuse the fuzzy pics, I was being hustled along to get across the street to the above mentioned Viking party, where…among other fun…
We sat with Chad, enthralled while Arthur of by kamy, a rug manufacturer laid treasure after treasure before us made of hemp, wovens, natural fibers and rugs that were recycled and pieced, plays on traditional patterns and weaves and even whole carpets that were batiked. The one that looked like water running was my favorite.

trend 7:  I-not human, An Avatar in Amazon country

Hours and hours of driving after the conference took us to the jungle-side casita owned by the CEO of a major global corporation. We arrived at night and finally I could rest, inside my Indian prayer shawl and the silent wool blanket cocoon of the casita…big expanses of silence begin to talk between sleep and dreams. I was lulled by endless variations and dreams of a white house underground a carpet of a green farm roof like Dror’s with water and solar panel energy receptors above ground to channel energy for food stores and refrigeration underneath. In the morning,

I open the door from blackness to bright rows of juniper trees teaming with dragonflies, green hummingbirds with squeaking pulsating flitting everything and the shock of “real” life. An I-adjustment, an avatar world. Twos and twos and twos of birds and flocks of butterflies and insects are trapezing together on every platform of interstitial space. From the ground where insects crawl in their own pursuit of happiness like San Paulo cars in traffic to way overhead soaring Turkey Vultures and Birds of size and color I have never seen before.

On this one path, in bright sun and dappled darkness in 100 feet I must have seen 100 species. This one purple butterfly did the same dance for me that its NYC counterpart did just one month ago, calling my attention and landing for a photo.

A black butterfly with cherry red fruits as wingtips or an immense air slicing of lemon yellow silk will swing by your head…recover and a tiny grey and white monkey with round black furry ears is above looking at you tilting his head between eating fruits.

Stop and breathe and you notice 4 of his friends lounging in the tree also with tilted curious little people heads. We try to talk…I imagine they are like the Cheshire cat.

Loved the pool, amphitheatre cozy enough for 500 and five outdoor kitchens, all Viking accessorized but not the caged exotic birds, a toucan, macaws and the like, which apparently is common practice in Brazil. On my romp around the property on the full moon day, pondering the riches and scarcity of the Earth’s resources, I imagined I was like these lovelies in Fernando Amorosolo’s painting. Between al fresca yoga and nature hikes, like a geek, I played with images of water, glass, sun and the full moon which could be seen in the day sky.


The raised beds of lettuces, herbs and fruits and vegetables were so hearty and could exist anywhere…yes? Country or city! Concrete and farming are becoming friends…they have to.

trend 8:  I-not just fashion, maybe I grow my food too. Farm store.

Back in Sao Paulo, The Farm Store  is a forward thinking clothing store opening up the box to integrate nature through its live-plant walls and rainwater capturing systems, however, the unequalities of Brazil rage on all around. Across the street are tiny shops where a crowd of unemployed men hang out drinking. Not very much different from any forward thinking outpost, but clearly this is the colonial system of occupation and overthrow we have always seen.

From 40 dollars for a small pizza at an upscale restaurant to a one hour and a half drive and still be in the city of Sao Paulo amidst all the positive creative beings, buildings. It is beyond immense and dense. I have never seen anything like it. “The infinite city.”  Yes.

I-not is I-finite.

Happy to have met Emmanuel Rengade in Paris many years ago, who has created two organic, wireless retreats integrated into the communities and arts that surround them, just hours from Sao Paulo. This was my footprint in Brazil, with the seed for the artist Pasha‘s project on the land at the former coffee plantation, Fazenda Catucaba. The mythical doorways are oriented in directions to tell a timeless story about Brazil and hold the dreams of the viewer in present time.

I-not.

Happy that architects and planners like Zachary Aders are working on urban farm solutions for the favelas of Sao Paulo.

Until then,

perhaps this grafitti, opposite the wall with the baby and space umbilical cords and across from the Farm store, this little gem of bio-machine tech merging richness, can inspire

like a Blue Star Kachina unmasked in the Plaza…

and protect and carry the dreams, trees, machines and children of Brazil forward. 

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7 Responses to “I-hello from Sao Paulo. the best 9 “I-not” #artdesignbrazil trends”

  1. fantastic. tks for coming to boomspdesign 2011. love, beto

  2. hello, jade. great post, lovely pictures! mine too ❤
    glad you had a good time in Brazil. it was a pleasure to meet you. 1 beijo, Patricia


  1. 1 A former coffee plantation hosts art | Backroom CCS
  2. 2 The Wild and The Tame, Slow Luxury in the UK. « Jade Dressler
  3. 3 Always Seeing Stars. | Jade Dressler

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