148 CHANGE AND REARRANGE
This is no job for sentimental saps. André and Vivian scour SÜo Paulo’s markets for rare finds to decorate their living room. And then put a price tag on every last piece. The couple lives in their showroom. Not bad when it’s a 1940s villa, a masterpiece of rationalism with a tropical garden. The only room closed to customers is the bedroom. For their privacy has no price
«All the furniture is for sale, except for one piece», said Vivian, who with her companion, Andrè, lives in the gallery that doubles as their home. «The decor continually changes, the pieces come and go». The young, thirtysomething couple flings open the doors, welcoming collectors into this unusual home-gallery in São Paulo’s Jardim América neighbourhood, well known for its exclusive boutiques and top-end hotels. Andrè is a graphic artist who has a thing for restoration; Vivian is a journalist who adores art and once worked for the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo, the contemporary art institution. Both are serial collectors, always on the hunt for treasures in the city. «But only Vivian can find period pieces in garbage bins», Andrè admitted. The living room may feature a Lina Bo Bardi armchair today and a Hans Wegner chair or a Giotto Stoppino table tomorrow. Design pieces move in and out for an ever-changing living room. For Andrè and Vivian, the typical Brazilian or nostalgic longing, never surfaces. They don’t let themselves get attached to even a lampshade. «We always have new furnishings. Mixing and matching them is quite the challenge. This is also an excellent way to learn to live with few things since in reality we own practically nothing». They’ve maintained the villa as it once was – white, uncluttered and with respect for the original architecture. Victor Brecheret designed the home in 1939. Among his many works, the sculptor created a São Paulo landmark, the Bandeiras Monument in honour of the Portuguese and Brazilian colonial explorers. «He had a small workshop in the back», Vivian said. «The two ovens that he built are still there». He had returned to Brazil after a long period in France during which he was heavily influenced by modernist masters such as Le Corbusier and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. «But he wasn’t an architect as was the case with Rino Levi, ‘the rationalist of the tropics’, who in the ’60s remodelled the home at the request of Brecheret’s widow, who lived here until 2015». A pioneer of the Brazilian modernist movement, Levi changed the layout of the rooms, added sliding doors and windows and designed the movable partition which is still in the centre of the living room. «It’s not for sale», Vivian emphasized.