This Modernist São Paulo Apartment Celebrates Brazilian Art and Design

When marketing exec Gustavo Andriani left New York for São Paulo, he set out to create a home that would help him reconnect with his cultural heritage after decades abroad. The process began with a search for a midcentury residence. “I actually shopped for this apartment on a bicycle—visiting the areas of São Paulo where the midcentury buildings are and making notes,” says Andriani. “Then I handed a list of seven buildings to my broker.”

The doggedness that landed Andriani his dream 1960s building is a trait that he and longtime friend, interior designer Charlie Ferrer, share. “Gustavo had a very clear vision for how to reorganize the space for how he wanted to live in it,” Ferrer says. “He made that easy.” The duo, who studied together at the University of Pennsylvania, had previously collaborated on Andriani’s apartment in New York and had established a shorthand—which was helpful, as Ferrer only visited the site twice before install day. “I say that I did an internship at Charlie’s firm,” Andriani laughs, admitting that he did a lot of the on-the-ground legwork.

Upon entering the gut-renovated space, exposed concrete ceilings—a feature Ferrer insisted on preserving—offer a brutalist element. “At the beginning of construction, he was about to cover up the ceilings, and I said, ‘Let’s not do that—at all costs,’” Ferrer remembers. “Thankfully he agreed because it really makes the apartment.” The ceilings are the perfect juxtaposition to the interior’s warm, inviting textures. The decision not only honored the building’s character but also set a tone of authenticity that permeates the space.

Andriani and Ferrer spent hours in the designer’s New York office choosing soft finishes. “It was a challenge trying to replicate all the beautiful colors and textures that came out of my library,” Ferrer says. But with some research, the team was able to source comparable textiles in Brazil. Some things were more difficult to find, Andriani says. “In Latin America, there’s a tendency towards liking the new. The finishes are shiny. They aren’t used to the idea of patina,” he explains.

The furnishings are a combination of vintage finds both from Andriani’s West Village apartment and local purveyors, alongside custom commissions, including the Brazilian-made sectional sofa. “We upcycled a few pieces that were purchased in New York or Paris for the initial project, but when I was in São Paulo, we spent three days shopping and went to 15 dealers,” says Ferrer of the items sourced in Brazil, including the Danish chair in the bedroom and the kitchen counter stools.

The kitchen and bathrooms saw the most significant transformations, now boasting modern amenities and finishes that complement the building’s design. “We basically made the interior consistent with the exterior,” says Ferrer. “Whereas before, there wasn’t a clear relationship between the two.” Meanwhile, custom millwork and hardwood floors throughout bring harmony to the apartment’s disparate spaces.

The light-filled home has become a gallery-like space for Andriani’s burgeoning collection. “Art has been an interesting way of reconnecting with Brazilian culture after 22 years of being away,” the homeowner says. “In parallel to this project, I’ve been collecting upcoming Brazilian and Latin American artists.” And in some ways, the art dictated the design. Ferrer dedicated an entire wall to the display of one large-scale black-and-white piece by Tania Candiani, a Mexican artist featured at Venice Biennale 2016.

The completed São Paulo apartment is more than just a living space or renovation done right. It’s a celebration of friendship, a testament to Ferrer and Gustavo’s journey from their college days to their creative reunion in Brazil.

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