In the wake of the 2016 Olympic games Rio de Janeiro has risen like a phoenix from the ashes of criticism, economic recession, political turmoil, disease and crime to host a spectacular Summer Games, made sweeter by the fact nobody expected it. Rio is today as it always was, beautifully imperfect and one of the most enigmatic cities on earth. As if the supercilious miles of palm-tree-dotted coastlines, verdant rainforest and sun drenched streets of Rio de Janeiro were not enough of a destination, we sit down with three Carioca (people from Rio) designers marching to the rhythm of their own beat. In a city oozing with tenacity and talent these three are striding ahead of the pack. When they are not sketching designs they take a minute to unveil some of Brazil’s best kept travel secrets.
Nathalie Kuper - VOA Joias
Created by carioca duo Lola Vaz and Nathalie Kuperman in 2015, VOA Joias uniquely combines precious stones and metals with the iconic dark basalt (Portuguese stone) - the very same that adorns the swirling black and white patterns on Copacabana’s pavements - in an adoring salute to the city they love. The pair explain that VOA’s elegantly simple designs are a minimal yet chic touch of glamour for the modern woman in a deeply poetic concept. For the perfect city escape the twosome beam as they describe weekends in Paraty, a coastal town four hours south of Rio. “The historic city centre is a beautiful meeting of colonial charm with omnipresent nature; turquoise water, paradisiacal beaches, tropical mountains and waterfalls,” explains Nathalie. “Not only this, but there is a busy annual calendar of events such as the FLIP Literature Festival, Jazz Festival and Mimo Contemporary Music Festival.” For a frill-free yet faultlessly welcoming stay they recommend Pousada Arte Urquijo, a rustic-chic guest house in a restored 18th-century home a minute's walk from the centre. Amble lethargically along the cobbled streets, passing the colourful façades to find the jewel in the crown of Paraty’s culinary scene. “Banana da Terra’s ‘caiçara cuisine’ is as tasty as it is traditional,” explains Nathalie. “You won’t find a better flavoured souvenir to take home.”
Having cemented her love of jewelry training in Rio and Germany, Tissa Berwanger returned to her hometown in 2013 to appropriate all she had learned in her own line. She was a trailblazer in the ‘do it yourself’ movement - still in its infancy in Brazil - that celebrates the technical dedication in handmade craftsmanship. She describes her jewelry as authorial; a minimalist language of nonindulgent sophistication. Each limited edition design is meticulously handmade by Tissa using a range of precious metals. “My designs celebrate basic forms, folding metalwork, geometric shapes and an exploration of symmetry and asymmetry.” To escape the pressure of running her own business, Tissa seeks a kind of relaxation and serenity brought only by nature and one that fills her “with inspiration for new creations.” The National Park of Chapada da Diamantina in Bahia is a magnificent 1520km² triumph of “the most exuberant wealth of natural beauty I have ever seen, with cascading waterfalls, grassy valleys, soaring rock faces, semi-arid savanna and lush mountain flora,” gushes Tissa. There is a wide variety of routes and trails to suit every kind of explorer - from short hour-long treks to adventurous seven day expeditions. Pousada da Rita, a simple and rustic guesthouse in the town of Lençois, is the perfect launch pad from which to explore the region’s ubiquitous and unique natural beauty. “Rita and her husband are phenomenal hosts and guides,” explains Tissa. “And for the perfect dinner following a day of trekking, Pizzeria Capão Grande - I always go back even after 10 years.”
Natalie Paes - Augustana Store
“I wanted a career in something that truly inspired me professionally and complemented my creative side,” explains tenacious co-founder of the boutique Augustana Store, Natalia Paes. Together with Carolina Jappour, the duo created a timeless brand exploring modern tailoring with light fabrics that complement femininity and freedom of identity. “We give ‘the basics’ - items you could wear to any occasion - an injection of sophistication and personality to empower young, dynamic, modern and creative women to explores new boundaries.” Founded three years ago, the pair are now exploring ideas to expand the brand. “Today we want to create a concept-space bringing together other players in the field to create a more complete and profound experience.” When not sketching and planning, Natalie escapes to Praia do Espelho, located in the south of Bahia. “Many of our designs are inspired by the stunning surroundings of a place like this,” explains Natalie. For a deep sensory experience, she recommends staying at Calá & Divino, a secluded, upscale hotel, with beautiful design, private bungalows and “an in-house restaurant that is easily the best in the area - don’t miss their seafood specials,” smiles Natalie. “The beauty of the beaches and the unique tranquility of the place is immense, it is the ultimate relaxation destination.”