April 10th, 2015
Section: Architecture > People
SHRUGGING OFF ENVY WITH ISAY WEINFELD: A CHAT WITH THE TOP BRAZILIAN ARCHITECT
By Guilherme Amorozo
Talking to Isay Weinfeld has never been easy. Yet, for some time now, one of the greatest active Brazilian architects has become even more reticent. Maybe because he has no time left, busy as he is with dozens of projects on three continents: at least four apartment buildings in Sao Paulo; a new livraria da vila bookstore and a branch of Parigi restaurant, both at Cidade Jardim mall; a hotel in Brasilia; a cultural institute in Porto Alegre; a project in Vienna; another apartment building in Monaco, and yet another in New York; a mixed-used housing and lodging project in Miami – this one, speculated to be run by the Fasano group; as well as rumors of a theater near Paulista Avenue. Concerning the latter two, though, the architect will not confirm anything, in terms of possible clients. After all, if there is one thing Isay cannot be accused of is incoherence – the client has always been his work’s raison d’être. To all that, also add the new short films in the IW Filmes series, the newest apple of his eye, in which he takes up, from his architectural legacy, his roots as filmmaker. In the following interview, which he chose to answer by e-mail, Isay sheds some light into how he has ridden – and enjoyed – this wave.
Casa Vogue: It has always been known that cinema has influenced your architecture. What had not been imagined is how well your architecture would serve cinema, as in the IW Filmes series, which you have released little by little. Why to bring together these two diverse areas of your career, at this point?
Isay Weinfeld: For sheer pleasure, there is no other reason. These are the greatest passions in my life: music, cinema and architecture – in that order, actually. The purpose of the films is not to document the projects, but rather to see them as I see them myself.
CV: Would cinema be the most powerful medium to reveal a location to someone who is not there?
IW: Nothing replaces the experience of being somewhere in person.
CV: You say you are not too interested in architecture. Is that the secret for your longevity in the trade? Niemeyer loved to say what really mattered were friends and women, and he worked until he was 104…
IW: I do not have that aspiration, but I do believe what matters is to go on as long as there is pleasure.
CV: You already boast over 20 projects for the Fasano group – the next to be opened is Parigi restaurant, at Cidade Jardim mall. What explains that long-lasting relationship?
IW: An immense affinity, which led to extremely strong friendship. Yet, professionally, there are no strings attached.
CV: What can you already tell us about the Shore Club project, in Miami?
IW: We will renovate the hotel and revamp the interiors. The apartment block, in turn, will be expanded.
CV: And how about the Jardim condominium, in New York?
IW: It is an apartment complex in West Chelsea, a few steps from the High Line. In terms of interiors, we will only work on the common areas.
CV: Is it possible to say your practice is experiencing a new phase, something of an internationalization of the Isay Weinfeld signature? Or is that just a natural evolution of the work that had been done?
IW: Not one thing, nor the other. Whether here or abroad, the work is the same.
CV: Do you see yourself as an exporter of Brazilian architecture when you develop projects abroad?
IW: I am a Brazilian architect and I believe my work reflects that, somehow. I do not strive for, or seek, a Brazilian personality, though.
CV: You say you do not like to repeat the same types of projects, but never stopped designing homes. Is the residential universe inexhaustible?
IW: Inexhaustible, because the conditions will always change from one project to the next. The family, mostly.
CV: Is there any type of project you still have not undertaken and would really like to? What?
CV: Is it possible to be happy living in Sao Paulo? How?
IW: I am an optimist. I think even that is possible.
CV: To what do you attribute the recent appreciation authorial architecture has experienced in the city?
IW: I believe there is more information today, and I think architecture per se has regained value.
CV: What does an architect who may work exclusively on what he chooses to want to do for leisure?
IW: He rests.
CV: And to what destinations have you enjoyed traveling lately?
IW: I have enjoyed staying at home.
CV: What directors make you leave home to go to the movies these days?
IW: Lars von Trier, Kim Ki-duk and Woody Allen.
CV: And what has played on your iPod, on your way work from home?
IW: Valesca Popozuda.