"After spotting a rare example of the ‘Picnic’ table, designed in the 1970s by Brazil’s Sérgio Rodrigues, Carlos Jereissati Filho didn’t need to think twice. He bought the piece, made of caviúna wood, iron and glass, from a local art and design gallery, Renome, to put in pride of place in his new apartment in the Itaim Bibi neighbourhood of São Paulo. ‘I couldn’t resist. It reminds me of Guarujá beach lunches with my family when I was a kid,’ says Jereissati Filho. ‘We were so happy.’ Today the piece doubles as a dining table and a place to read books from his library, just another element of what the entrepreneur believes is the ideal residence. ‘Everything here has a reason to exist,’ he says. ‘It’s like a universal conversation between designers from Brazil and around the world, from Joaquim Tenreiro to Gio Ponti.’ As an ensemble, the effect is inviting and luxurious. At 46, Jereissati Filho is the CEO of Iguatemi, responsible for the company’s 17 shopping malls scattered throughout Brazil, either built from scratch or acquired and refurbished for high-end consumers. He was born in São Paulo into a Lebanese family that emigrated to Fortaleza, in the northeastern state of Ceará, in the early 20th century and made its fortune with the Cearense flour mill. He lives alone, occasionally goes to work by foot or bicycle (usually without suit and tie) and loves to host friends at home. Just a few blocks from the 11th floor apartment is Iguatemi São Paulo, the city’s first shopping mall, bought by his father Carlos Francisco Ribeiro Jereissati, in 1979, 13 years after it was built. While the family’s malls gather together a host of global brands, Jereissati Filho is focused on collecting of a different kind. The furniture in his new apartment was acquired in collaboration with architect Samuel Lamas from Equipe Lamas in Brasilia. When he sat down to discuss the project with his client, the architect was faced with a framework of grey floors and white walls, but with one unrivalled feature: a broad view of the city provided by the floor-to-ceiling windows. ‘It was ready to receive colour and a lot of light,’ says Lamas.
Keen demand for Brazilian design, particularly from the midcentury, has seen the value of locally made furnishings soar. The vintage era is now highly prized, while there’s also a brisk trade in officially sanctioned reissues. In Jereissati Filho’s apartment, original pieces and re-editions come together. The ‘Millôr’ sofas were commissioned directly from Rodrigues, and are ideal partners for his yellow ‘Beto’ chair and ‘Mucki’ bench made of jacaranda. In the same space, there is a ‘Bowl’ chair by Lina Bo Bardi, the architect behind brutalist gems such as the Museu de Arte de São Paulo and the city’s SESC Pompéia cultural and sports centre. Four green ‘Adriana’ armchairs, by Jorge Zalszupin, form a conversation corner, with lighting by Frenchman Serge Mouille. ‘We chat a lot here; I like the proximity, the scale,’ says Jereissati Filho. As a collector, he is especially keen on seeking out lighting. Above the ‘Picnic’ table hangs a particular favourite, the ‘Artichoke’, a copper creation by Danish designer Poul Henningsen. A table lamp by Paulo Mendes da Rocha, acquired through Mercado Livre (a Latin American rival to eBay), lights up the centre of the room, while the Castiglioni brothers’ ‘Snoopy’ lamp, found in LA, completes the illuminations. Jereissati Filho also surrounds himself with 20th-century and contemporary Brazilian artworks, including pieces by Lygia Clark, Dudi Maia Rosa, Sérgio Sister, Luiz Zerbini, Rodolpho Parigi and photographs by Mario Cravo Neto and Claudia Jaguaribe, among others. His acquisition policy is emotional: if he likes it, he takes it home. Among the international works, he outlines his preference for a recently acquired multicoloured screen by the American artist Sarah Morris – ‘I’m a fanatic about geometry,’ he says. From any spot in the sun-bathed living space – even during the mild paulistano winter – Jereissati Filho has a panoramic view of the surroundings, including the JK Iguatemi shopping mall (opened in 2012), and Parque do Povo. Nevertheless, for business-related entertaining, the design-loving entrepreneur maintains Casa Jereissati, a suspended glass box of a house in the city’s Jardim Europa district, also designed by Equipe Lamas. The apartment is a more private affair. Jereissati Filho’s engagement with São Paulo has made him an important adviser for cultural institutions such as the Pinacoteca art museum, and also a key player in one of the city’s great challenges – the revitalisation of the Pinheiros river, which currently cuts off part of the city. ‘Clearing the river and building a linear park in its surroundings is my great dream. This is our new frontier, we need to carry this out urgently,’ Jereissati Filho says. If he applies the same skill and devotion as he has to the curation of his home and business, success is guaranteed." Text by Cinthia Rodrigues