Silence and calm are the first sensations suggested by Pelusi House, an airy and bright house, lush and conceptual despite being in the center of the largest city in Latin America. Crossing the threshold, crossing large open spaces with neutral and natural shades that return a cultured and measured elegance, the visitor's gaze is taken elsewhere, towards the horizon bordered by a green carpet of tropical trees.
We are in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in the house of a couple of foreigners, she is Italian and he is Puerto Rican-American, both collectors of Latin American art and furnishings. Here, Carolina Maluhy, a Brazilian architect based in London, took care of the interior design focusing on pure forms and harmony of proportions, using natural materials and craftsmanship. A skilful project that, with meticulous care – in subtraction – intertwines the characteristic features of modern Brazilian architecture with elements with a multicultural flavor to emphasize the works of art and the cult design pieces that dot the rooms.
The prestigious collection of Brazilian and Latin American conceptual art and Brazilian furnishings from the 1950s and 1960s are the result of a continuous – passionate – research conducted by the two owners to discover Brazil, its history, its traditions and its peculiarities. The works, furniture and objects can be observed from several points of the house, emphasized by linear and silent architecture. In the house, designed in fluid paths that cross open, coherent and bright environments, nothing stands out, nothing draws attention to itself: everything is permeated by a placid harmony. To fully enjoy every work, material or detail.
The difficulty of the project was to orchestrate both collections – art and furniture – in the context of a functional, welcoming and livable house, without the need for additional grafts to the architecture, thus conceiving the space as a neutral container, as well as when giving the first coat of white paint to prepare the canvas. But Carolina Maluhy went much further, detaching herself from the idea of designing a white cube. Working with few materials and without using color, she focused on proportions, the impact of natural light and surfaces, giving rhythm to the configuration of the spaces.
The biggest structural change is the one made in the second floor penthouse which was originally a large outdoor terrace. The dialogue with the outside has been enhanced with the creation of a square dome with a sunshade that regulates the effect of natural light during the day and frames the starry sky at night, almost as if it were a temple. There are no colors on the walls or even on the custom-made furniture: no element steals the show. The harmony with the city vibrating in the distance is absolute.
Wood is the main material, from vintage furnishings to handcrafted pieces. The Jacarandá da Bahia stands out, a precious Brazilian rosewood with a deep chocolate shade streaked with sinuous streaks, used by Jorge Zalszupin to make his massive and sculptural tables. The couple's furniture collection brings together a series of well-known names and design suggestions ranging from the orthogonality of Joaquim Tenreiro to the curves of Giuseppe Scapinelli, from the rationalism of Geraldo de Barros to the creativity of Lina Bo Bardi that with the metal tubular, perceived material as a poor man, he made an iconic rocking chair.
From every perspective from the house, the living areas are seen in their entirety, in a modern concept of open space that recounts Brazilian architecture from the 1940s; in fact, originally the building housed the Ministry of Health and Education of Brazil, designed by Le Corbusier, Lucio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer. The lack of elements that divide the rooms made it possible to use a single material for the floor, travertine marble. The absence of ‘formal distractions’ highlights its porosity, the random grains on the surface, the color variations, but above all the intense beauty of the marks left by the passing of time.
Even the custom-made wooden elements return multisensory suggestions. Like the sideboard, dotted with works by Fernanda Gomes born from the transformation of waste elements, which runs along the entire length of the wall: it appears and disappears depending on the visual angle from which it is observed and the effects of light on the veined surface.
Extensive but carefully selected, varying in eras and style but coherent, the couple's collection of artworks includes the myriad of media works by Italian-Brazilian artist Ana Maria Maiolino installed near the front door, works by Renata Lucas and Rivane Neuenschwander, as well as the xylophone of Mexican artist Pedro Reyes, part of a series of tools made with weapons, designed for a campaign on disarmament in Culiacan.
Among the works of Latin American artists there are also the bottles of Coca-Cola by Cildo Meireles, considered among the most important pieces of conceptual art of the second half of the 20th century, and a neon sign by the Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar which reports the verses M'illumino d'immenso by the Italian poet Giuseppe Ungaretti.
For Pelusi House, Carolina Maluhy has developed an interior design project that contaminates everyday life with the formal and intellectual use of art. An invitation to stop and reflect present everywhere, thanks to the purity – the silence – of the forms, the copious light and the luxuriant greenery: the sense of peace that pervades the spaces.