Nestled in the leafy Jardim Paulista neighborhood of Sao Paulo near the famed Fasano Hotel, the first private architectural commission from the Campanas epitomizes the Brazilian design duo’s commitment to employ native materials and rescuing dying handcraft traditions. Indigenous ocas homes inspired the brothers, who wrapped the facade of the house with piassava, a natural palm fiber from the northeast region of Brazil that serves as a tropical-heat shield. Inside, site-specific signature pieces imagined by the Campanas include a mammoth wooden bookcase tiled in leather that spirals up from the ground floor to the top of the home. Outside, the garden showcases native cylindrical snake plants alongside erythrina coral trees interspersed with intricate benches woven from iron wire. Five years from commission to completion, the house embodies the evolution of the Campana Brothers’ work during this period as they explored and experimented with fresh techniques and fabrications.
Owners Stefano Zunino and Solange Ricoy befriended the Campanas 15 years ago when the Italian and Argentinian couple moved to Sao Paulo. They acquired several pieces from the brothers, including a cardboard table, one labirinto bookshelf and a custom-made bar and stools. Solange asked Humberto and Fernando to give talks at the branding and innovation strategy agency she co-founded called Alexandria. Stefano, who is CEO of J. Walter Thompson Americas, invited them in 2006 to renovate the lobby and conference rooms of his headquarters then a year later offered to them their first landscape project, the garden adjacent to the office building which they re-imagined with indigenous Brazilian flora and fauna. When the Zuninos were ready to build their family home, it was an obvious choice to commission the Campanas. Their brief to the designers: to blur the lines between outside and inside ‘so they could live outside as if they were ￼￼￼ inside, to enjoy the weather, the plants, the open space and live inside as if they were outside with lots of light and as if the outside could come inside the house’, explains Solange.
The plot is long and narrow, a mere 14 meters wide, so the house was built up to four floors to capture as much sunlight as possible. The 663 square-meter rectangular structure floats like an island in a pool of green grass framed by walls painted green and covered with climbing fig. The brothers wanted a simple topography for the garden that proposes a dialogue with the outdoor iron furniture, which seem to have grown into the landscape. They kept all the trees on the original site, including a mango and pitanga, and planted six erythrina coral trees: ‘This is like a sculpture tree. It loses all the leaves in the winter and a very delicate red flower bloom remains. It’s beautiful’, explains Fernando. The house faces north, and in order to create some texture as well as protect from the intense summer heat, the brothers relied on the piassava palm fiber that they had used for the scenography for the Sao Paulo Fashion Week in 2013 as the exterior wall covering.
The ground floor is an expansive garage with sufficient room for the family’s various modes of transports: vintage car, Vespa moto scooter and bicycles suspended sideways on the walls. The focal piece of the living room on the first floor is a gigantic silver mirror made from cloud-like layers that dominate the back wall. The hardwood floors were reclaimed from the previous house on the same site. The kitchen features orange Silestone floors that ‘brings a bit of warmth and coziness’ according to Humberto, as well as a shelf crafted from cobogó brick; a table in the same material, which is traditionally used for roof and outside ventilation walls and showcased on the brothers’ Aesop shop located nearby, sits on the terrace connecting the living room with the garden.
A guest bedroom and red bathroom occupy the second floor, shared by the family’s two boys who have their own interconnected bedrooms: one in blue and other orange. The hardwood floors on this floor were recovered from a Minas Gerais futsal court. The top floor is the master suite with a transparent roof to ‘catch the sunlight’, Humberto says. Wood from a fazenda farm in Londrina find new life as flooring here, while a metal fireplace is hung from the ceiling to keep away the winter chill. The bathroom is white and in marble, a nod to the Italian classicism of Stefano’s home country. There is a private terrace for the couple to enjoy the outdoors as well. Humberto explains that ‘the mandacaru cactus is very popular in the countryside to create fences, so we used it here as an element of privacy’.
What most visitors to the home will remember is the bookcase, inspired by the namesake of Solange’s company. ‘The house turns around the library. It’s the signature piece’, says Stefano. ‘It’s like a living animal living inside the house’. Humberto adds that the bookcase was ‘made of pieces of leather hand-glued one by one over a wood structure. We wanted to create something like a vegetable that goes from outside of the house to the inside’. Fernando continues: ‘Like a vegetable that invades the house. The house is very clean, so we created those elements to bring strong, organic emotion into the house and the facade’.
Architect : Estudio Campana Fernando and Humberto Campana (design principal) Lelia Arruda and Diogo Matsui (project team) Clients : Solange Ricoy and Stefano Zunino Location : Rua Atlantica – Jardins Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil Area : 600 sqm Project year : 2010 - 2015 Photographer : Leonardo Finotti Contractor : Lock engenharia