In the 1990s, Alexandre Allard founded Consodata, the largest consumer behavior database in the world. After traveling the world for several years, he honed in on his ambition: rediscovering the latent creative energy of historic places and rekindling their flame by juxtaposing the power of cultural heritage with the dynamism of contemporary art. He was the mastermind behind the rebirth of the Balmain brand, which he sold in 2014.
Under his guidance, Groupe Allard is responsible for several successful restoration projects such as the Royal Monceau and the Hotel Particulier de Pourtalès, both in Paris. For eight years now, Allard has dedicated his time and vision towards the revitalization of São Paulo’s Cidade Matarazzo.
Frenchman Jean Nouvel, winner of the most honorable international architectural award – the Pritzker Prize – is recognized for his inventiveness and urban sensibility.
Among the numerous public and private projects he has undertaken around the world are iconic buildings such as the Arab cultural center in Paris, the Dentsu Building in Tokyo and the Agbar tower in Barcelona. In São Paulo, his legacy will be an innovative tower, which vertically expands Matarazzo Park, reaching a hundred meters upwards from São Paulo’s urban fabric.
Philippe Starck is an internationally acclaimed French creator, designer and architect. His profound comprehension of contemporary mutations, determination to change the world, anticipatory concern for environmental implications, love of ideas, desire to defend the intelligence of usefulness - and the usefulness of intelligence - have accompanied one iconic creation after the other. From everyday products such as furniture and lemon squeezers, to revolutionary mega-yachts, individual windmills, electric bikes or hotels and restaurants that aspire to be wondrous, stimulating and intensely vibrant places.
This untiring and rebellious citizen of the world, who considers it his duty to share his ethical and subversive vision of a fairer planet, creates unconventional places and objects whose purpose is to be “good” before being beautiful.
Philippe Starck and his wife, Jasmine, mostly live on an airplane or in the “middles of nowhere”.
Benech began his career as a garden designer in 1985 after an apprenticeship at the famed Sir Harold Hilliers Nursery garden in Hampshire (UK). The stunning quality if his work and his passion for nature soon placed him in the international spotlight. Since his return to France, he has designed over 250 parks and gardens (public and private) not only in France but also abroad.
Louis Benech is responsible for a series of prestigious projects, including the restoration of the Louvre, Versailles and Elysée gardens in Paris, the Jardim das Princesas in Rio de Janeiro and Pavlosk’s Rose Pavillion in Saint Petersburg.
Radha Arora was named President of the Rosewood Hotels & Resorts in September 2011. A widely-respected hotelier, Radha has over 30 years’ experience in luxury hospitality and has worked with some of the world’s most prestigious properties. Prior to joining Rosewood, he spent 16 years at Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, where he was General Manager of the Beverly Wilshire and Regional Vice President overseeing the company’s properties in the western United States and South Pacific region.
Rosewood is one of the world’s leading ultra luxury hotel companies and will manage the new hotel opening in Cidade Matarazzo: Rosewood São Paulo.
Headquartered in France, and keeping to the compagnonnage tradition that goes back to the Middle Ages, Ateliers de France is made up of a network of engineers and experts in the most refined detailing and finishing techniques. Ateliers de France has been invited by Groupe Allard to head the entire finishing process of Cidade Matarazzo in an exclusive partnership - their very first in Brazil. Currently, Ateliers de France is conducting extensive and unprecedented research in the development of innovative solutions for the use of high-quality materials such as woods, marbles, mirrors and metals. The company's exceptional work can be found around the world in hotels like the Peninsula in Paris, the Four Seasons in London/New York and l'Hermitage in Monaco. At Cidade Matarazzo, Ateliers de France was chosen to work alongside Philippe Starck in delivering the highest quality custom finishings for the Rosewood Tower São Paulo Suites. Their work will be supervised by Darius Sani, whose work can be found at the Tour Odeon in Monaco and the Royal Monceau in Paris. Ateliers de France draws from only the finest materials that can be found in Brazil, ensuring the highest quality finishings for the Suites of Rosewood Tower São Paulo.
Team: Darius SANI; Sebastien LE PEZENNEC; Thales CURY; Gustavo ZIVIANI; Fabiana GAVA; Marco DA CUNHA; Gregory DE MATOS; Kim RIBEIRO
A Franco-Brazilian architecture firm with offices in Paris and São Paulo, Triptyque is run by partners Grégory Bousquet, Carolina Bueno, Guillaume Sibaud and Olivier Raffaelli. Internationally recognized for their expertise in sustainable construction, Triptyque has been invited to participate in international exhibitions at museums such as the Guggenheim in New York and the Victoria & Albert in London. Responsible for prize-winning residential projects such as Harmonia 57 and Fidalga 272 in São Paulo, the architects recently received the NAJA award for young architects from the French Ministry of Culture. They are construction consultants for the Rosewood São Paulo Tower in Cidade Matarazzo.
“ The idea behind associating this anthropophagous elegance with the Matarazzo project is to engage the environment in a creative context.”
How do you intend to transplant to Matarazzo the concept you’ve been developing in your art, based on challenging the traditional visual conventions and exploring the appropriations that fan the debate on the original versus copy, icon versus stereotype, and fiction versus art history?
My conversation with Alex [Allard] and Philippe [Starck] centered on how to consolidate Matarazzo’s past with the project’s contemporaneity. I remember suggesting a fantastical archaeology of sorts based on the historical context of the institution, as a springboard for supernatural and surrealist fictions. Philippe and Alex came up with this central figure, a certain Count Terrasse, a bumptious little fellow whose ghost roams the hotel corridors. His exaggerated collection of medals would be on display somewhere in the lobby, beside an open book explaining how the count won each and every one of them. One of the medals we imagined was a rose he won for having tamed his mount, an Amazonian chimera, part tapir, part anteater, and part alligator. Another would be his Greatest Cheat award from the 1912 Tyrants’ Cards Olympics... that kind of thing. There’d be a vast collection of heirlooms and mementos related to the fantastical life of this imaginary count on display in the lobby, complete with backstory. I liked the idea of creating a conceptual architecture for the place that went beyond the norm for thematic hotels. The chance to create a structural poetic as the founding principle for a hotel struck me as a way of approximating the concepts of art and life.
Matarazzo won’t just transport you into some other place or time. It will take you into a whole new dimension. It’s like something Borges would have done if he’d made installations instead of writing books.
“It’s about looking inward and seeing the incredible things we have here, growing around us, in our own backyards.”
You’re a chef, you’ve been a model, you studied architecture. Matarazzo is a place that straddles art, culture, music, fashion, cinema. How does this poetic Italian island of greenery encrusted in the busy heart of São Paulo inspire you? I have a side that is really connected to cultural and humanistic expressions. Before turning to gastronomy, I wanted to be an architect and even studied the subject. My mother, an artist, encouraged us from a young age to play with modelling clay, and draw or paint. I still love to draw. I did lots of graffiti on the walls of my old house and on one of the walls of Padoca do Maní. For the book Maní, published in 2015, I did a series of drawings and included some pictures of graffiti, some of which I’d taken on my travels, especially during my time in Europe. Art and architecture are a part of me, and an inspiration to me. It’s a side of me that I express in my dishes.
“It’ll be a transformative place.”
As a pair of countryside boys, what was your first contact with São Paulo like?
Fernando: It was the re-urbanization of Paulista Avenue and the construction of MASP, around the time of the release of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The signage was redesigned with black totems inspired by the film. There was a modernity in the air that spoke of a fantastic future. It really saddened me when Paulista lost its historical identity with the demolition of the old townhouses. It was an art nouveau avenue in contrast with all these modern urban buildings.
In Plato’s dialogues, Socrates was sometimes drawn to the genius loci, the spirit of place. Here, at Matarazzo, how do you see the spirit of this place?
Humberto: It’s going to be a transformative place that will raise the aesthetic bar for the rest of the city. It’s interesting, because this drive to value what’s ours had to come from a foreigner.
F: São Paulo is self-destructive and bipolar. It’s on tranquillizers one day and crack the next. Before it was all knickers and briefs on billboards—Wim Wenders even captured that in a photo essay once. The only political act towards the aesthetic improvement of the city was the 2007 ban on billboards, which visually cleaned the place up.
“ That’s the value of the experience of occupation: the challenge of transformation.”
Matarazzo is itself a history of layers. In the exhibition Made by... Feito por brasileiros, in 2014, you occupied one of the spaces with your installation Interfaces, which was one of the highlights for many visitors. How was the collective experience for you?
Initially, the work stemmed from the immersion I did at Inhotim. Bernardo Paz very generously allowed me to experiment there. A erwards, in a chat with Alexandre Allard, I told him what I’d done and he invited me to take part in the show in São Paulo. When I saw the space allocated to me, I must confess I felt a mix of surprise and disappointment. The other rooms in the hospital were beautiful, and mine was this hidden corner with shiny black marble! It was everything but inspiring! But that’s the value of the experience of occupation: the challenge of transformation. So, I thought, as a doctor and an artist, that I’d try to “cure” that hospital, all decrepit and sick, with my elixir of art and nature through a new version of Interfaces, inspired by what I’d done at Inhotim. It was as if this “elixir” I was “instilling” with my images in that earthen hole in the middle of my room beneath that hospital was going to seep through the walls and into the tissues, curing the place through the magic of transformation, as a sort of metaphorical blessing for Alexandre Allard’s beautiful project, which will breathe fresh life into it, transforming it into a space of creativity. The images were projected onto the walls, onto mirrors, and flu ering fabrics, creating a visual and sensorial experience of immersion in this dream of an interface between Man, Art, and Nature. It was as if the art of those images, the beauty of the movements and colors were cleansing the old hospital.
“Creativity opens up new futures.”
How do you see Alexandre Allard’s Matarazzo project in relation to creativity properly speaking and the creative economy?
The creative economy belongs to the perspectives I defend. That’s why I think what Alexandre Allard is doing in and for São Paulo through the Cidade Matarazzo project is admirable and daring. As an entrepreneur, he knows how to expand on the opportunities presented by globalization and the digital media, proposing innovative ways to inform and underscore creativity in people and social groups. The creative economy aggregates varied concepts, values regional originality, collaborative integrations, and the generation of cultural values. We need to find this brave new world that moves, fine-tunes, refines, speeds up, and irradiates the creativity that is already reinventing the economy in less repetitive, commercial, standardized, and destructive ways. Creativity opens up new futures.
“São Paulo has so many incredible artists that need to be celebrated, loved, and known to the world.... Today, the world is one big ball of collaborative energy.”
Cidade Matarazzo will have a cutting edge music studio. You are at the helm of the Jungle Studio in New York. What can you say about the São Paulo studio?
It’s really important for São Paulo to have a studio in the akin of Jungle Studio, which is a reference in the US. Foreign musicians will have a new space in which to create and this will draw them to Brazil. They’ll be able to develop innovative projects with a community of exceptional artists. Today, the world is one big ball of collaborative energy where before it was a smattering of islands here or there. It’s different now, and we all want to communicate with the world. It’s not just American artists who’ll forge partnerships with Brazilian artists, but people from all nationalities. It’s important to organize creative hubs and create more and more of them.
Alex says that “Brazil irradiates creativity.” You’ve collaborated on so many creative projects, for the likes of Christian Louboutin, Adidas, etc. What inspires you about Cidade Matarazzo?
Lots of different things! For example, it inspires me not just in the area of music, but in the development of other projects, in fashion, in cinema. There are so many interesting things to do in the different fields of creativity, and all under that same umbrella. It’s the start of something special, something grandiose, that will make a positive contribution, inspiring the development of international customs, though with the focus always on art and the artist.
“ These are pieces that value their origins and respect the wood, time, the forest, the craftsperson, the designer.”
At Matarazzo, the Rosewood Group motto, A Sense of Place, expresses a translation of the local sensibility. How do you convey this sense of place, this genius loci, through authorial furniture? I see no difficulty in that. In fact, this spirit of seeking always the best of the place of origin, with projects packed with their authors’ DNA, for example, the “surrealism” of Starck, is the perfect combination from which to create artistic legacies. The authenticity and iconic design of pieces like Oscar Niemeyer’s Chaise Rio, placed in strong, unique spaces like Starck’s, create a “sense of place” that will make the guest’s stay at the Rosewood São Paulo unforgettable. I believe architecture and design influence our emotions, experiences, and to a certain extent, even the decisions we make. Architecture and design share the mission of really fixing moments in time and memory. We are used to projects like this, which unite exceptional architecture with first-rate design. Many of the pieces in our catalogue—such as the furniture of Niemeyer and Lina Bo Bardi—were conceived for spaces like that.
Etel uses only certified wood and this is associated with a forest preservation policy. The Matarazzo project will preserve the Atlantic Forest biodiversity in its gardens and then there’s Jean Nouvel’s green tower. Is luxury green today?
It’s not a question of luxury; it’s a matter of survival. The world has to become greener.
“Matarazzo Hospital, a little Central Park ... a concrete expression of an exuberant Brazil that has a lot to offer.”
How do you see the Matarazzo project in terms of one of your specialties, Wild Agriculture? And how do you see that knowledge in relation to the Indians who will be represented by the project?
The Earth has a living surface inhabited by vast quantities of beings that are the soul inherent to each place. Any “architecture” that uses compatible materials and complementary forms is welcome. In this project, the Indians will be embraced, along with their special products, as will the smallholders, who will discover how Wild Agriculture can serve as a means toward creating a garden that is both local and global. Following spontaneous vegetation formations, you can valorize productive proposals that avoid unbalanced farming activity, and this leads to a connection that allows us to respect the complexity that lends different places their life.
In the light of all your experience, is there any teaching you could add to help broaden our minds?
The task of participating in beauty still awaits. Courage! We must pool our qualities and make the very most of opportunities like this, with all these beings that feel the humidity, breathe colors, and observe the spread of light through Great Time.
“ They’ll be able to express themselves and make their mark on Brazilian culture. That’s magical. Amorous, powerful energy. A gift to the city.”
Your work exudes Brazil. Tell us about this passion.
I’m proud to say that Brazilian values are my main source of inspiration. The synthesis of my thought is the concept of wider dwelling, beyond the physical space itself and the aesthetic of the things it contains; it’s a concept that embraces values of connectedness, cultural identity, memory, and inclusion.
What about crafts, something you always exalt in your work? The Matarazzo project plans to showcase Brazilian arts and crafts.
Art and craftwork are essential expressions that come from the divine and are present in people regardless of culture. That’s what touches us. I think that we, Brazilians, still haven’t recognized the full extent of our creative potential. It will be a lesson for us to see some cultural heritage like the Matarazzo occupied by so many artists, artisans, and creative people. Through Alexandre Allard’s project, they’ll be able to express themselves and make their mark on Brazilian culture. That’s magical. Amorous, powerful energy. A gift to the city.