Already in its fourth edition, the annual São Paulo conference Boom SP Design is evolving quickly—much like the Brazilian designers that it helps to bring to international attention. Inviting boldface names to participate in the cultural exchange, last week's conference brought dozens of talks with such major figures in design, art and architecture as Karim Rashid, Dror Benshetrit and Matali Crasset. On top of a host of workshops, exhibits and parties, Friends With You flew down to launch eight special prints specially designed to commemorate their arrival in Brazil. Envisioned by the conference's founder Roberto Cocenza as a place to connect local and international designers, architects and retailers, the three-day event also puts the focus on Brazilian creativity.
Recalling an earlier trip to Brazil, Crasset questioned the Campana brothers' effect on Brazilian design. "You see now it's arriving, it's very personal and connected with the Brazilian way of doing things," she observed. "In Europe we use nature as a portal to decoration; here, it's more evident. Nature already has potential."
During the day, participants heard everyone from São Paulo's own Rodrigo Almeida to Miami, Florida-based Chad Oppenheim and others speaking about their experiences and future projects. Sprinkled in between were others on the cusp of breaking big internationally, such as Glaucio Diogenes, a graphic designer and illustrator who was named the event's designer of the year.
Another up-and-comer photographer Paul Clemence pushes the boundaries between architecture and other disciplines. His short video collaboration with Aksel Stasny uses the seemingly moving elements of buildings by architects like Zaha Hadid as a base and inspiration for animation.
One evening dedicated to Friends With You launched their posters that will sell through local design store Coletivo Amor de Madre. One of the building's facades now also features a painting by the FWY crew. "The belief of magic and empowerment is strong here," Friends With You's Sam Borkson said when asked about parallels between his work and Brazil. "We're like a mix of all those religions, changing acts of ritual into play to evoke things in people."
One of the newest additions to this rich cultural milieu comes in the form of the Heliopolis Residential Condominiums. We had a chance to see the complex first-hand when Japanese-Brazilian architect Ruy Ohtake (known for visually-prominent structures like Hotel Unique that form part of São Paulo's landscape and history) invited a group to visit the infamous favela, the second-biggest in Latin America.
Comprised of 21 buildings slated to open next month, the government housing project is the latest in Ohtake's seven-year involvement with the Heliopolis community. (He took us to his favorite haunts, including a small bar inside Heliopolis). The work stands out not only because of the bright colors and rounded design that contrast with the city's straight angles, but because it's designed by one of Brazil's few starchitects that doesn't limit his talents to just the private sector.