São Paulo, Brazil’s vibrant financial center, is among the world’s most populous cities, with numerous cultural institutions and a rich architectural tradition. Its iconic buildings range from its neo-Gothic cathedral and the 1929 Martinelli skyscraper to modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer’s curvy Edifício Copan. The colonial-style Pátio do Colégio church marks where Jesuit priests founded the city in 1554.
Well established now, having first opened in 2001, this chic hotel has maintained its rank at the summit of luxury accommodation – São Paulo style. The Emiliano was designed by the Brazilian architect Arthur Casas, who regularly returns to give the place a discreet facelift (less obvious than those of the celebrity soap actresses to be seen in the lobby). His latest work is a superb wall of greenery with a tropical theme in the restaurant area. The bar has been redesigned, with Campana brothers’ chairs and the more conventional armchairs by José Zanine Caldas. There is a white and beige colour scheme throughout, from the rooms to the spa. This features a Turkish bath, a jacuzzi and a sauna, with stunning panoramic views of São Paulo. A fitness suite has been slipped into a floor below the heliport, but don’t let that alarm you – it’s perfectly protected from vibrations or sudden noise if there’s a landing. Your arrival is celebrated with a glass of champagne, while a complimentary massage is offered to soothe away the effects of a long flight. The Emiliano excels at low-key sophistication, with contemporary gadgets, art books and meticulous service. An elegant range of beauty products, Santa Fe, has been developed especially for the hotel, featuring creams and soaps inspired by Brazilian native plants. The hotel is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World.
In 2002, the former model Cris Barros created her own label. Her aim: to bring out every woman’s potential for seductive appeal. Mission accomplished, as her brand has been hugely successful. Ideally located opposite the high-profile and prestigious Hotel Fasano in Jardim Paulistano, the shop presents Barros’s sensual, feminine collections featuring beguiling drapes and flounces. Cris Barros also designs a children’s line, based on the same romantic theme. The shop’s modern decor by Carolina Maluhy combines metallic crocodile walls and grey Marmocryl with neutral, minimalist architecture in a space that’s bathed in natural light and decked out in shades of green, orchids and foliage.
Spectacular was clearly the effect that Arthur Casas, the favourite architect of Brazil’s billionaires, was seeking for this restaurant. It opened in 2010 on an avenue so teeming with traffic it could pass for a motorway. In a building boasting extraordinary volumes, Casas created a gigantic green wall featuring 7,000 specimens from Mata Atlántica, Brazil’s Atlantic tropical rainforest. This is where the restaurant gets its name, for kaá means “forest” in the native Tupi language. On entering the restaurant, you pass an interior pool overlooked by a mezzanine reserved for private dinners. The 700-square-metre dining room has a smart central bar and a roof that slides open when the weather is fine. Elegant and ostentatious at the same time, the restaurant proposes the same Franco-Italian cuisine that was originally concocted by the French chef Pascal Valero. Since late 2012, the extensive menu has been in the hands of the Brazilian chef João Vergueiro Leme, who has continued his predecessor’s “fusion” spirit with dishes such as sea bass in wine sauce served with vegetable fettuccine and truffle butter or slow-cooked veal shank with saffron polenta. All very good, if not quite gourmet, yet.
Pinacoteca do Estado de Sao Paulo
The Pinacoteca is the city’s oldest large-scale cultural institution. In 1897, an art school was built in São Paulo, heralding the arrival of the museum. Set in the former da Luz Botanical Garden, the Liceu de Artes and Oficios (Arts and Crafts High School) opened in 1900 to train technicians and craftspeople. It was modelled on William Morris’s British Arts and Crafts schools. The Neoclassical building, designed by Francisco Ramos de Azevedo and Domiziano Rossi, originally had a gallery on the third floor. In 1911, the Pinacoteca obtained the status of a state museum. A century later, it is considered the most important art museum in South America, with a collection of over 8,000 works and high-quality temporary exhibitions. Most of the major works of Brazilian Modernism are here, in a space redesigned in 1997 by Paulo Mendes da Rocha.
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