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<< Back to Home & Style, March 2013

City Style: Rio de Janeiro

Jackie Caradonio

The death of Rio de Janeiro native Oscar Niemeyer in December marked not only the conclusion of a 76-year career for Brazil’s most influential architect, but also the end of an era for the country. Credited with almost single-handedly defining Brazil’s modernism movement with his sweeping, futuristic buildings, Niemeyer was virtually the architect of a nation. While his most notable achievement may have been his role in creating the overtly modernist capital, Brasilia, his distinctive style continues to evolve and inspire most successfully in the architect’s hometown. Here in Rio, between towering emerald mountains and seductive beaches, the visionary architecture that shaped the city so many decades ago sets the stage for new generations of designers and all-around arbiters of style.  [Jackie Caradonio]

Zuka
Designed by the architect Bel Lobo, this sleek, contemporary Brazilian restaurant, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary, typifies modernist design with its slatted teak facade and glass entryway. Details such as freijo wood paneling and a massive churrasco grill pay homage to its Rio roots. +55.21.3205.7154, www.zuka.com.br

HOTEL SANTA TERESA & TÉRÈZE
Brazilian art and reclaimed jacaranda wood mingle with silk drapes and modern furniture at this colonial-era mansion turned hotel in the artistic quarter. The melding of styles continues at the hotel’s tree-house restaurant, Térèze, whose Asian-Mediterranean cuisine is served amid reclaimed midcentury tables and chairs and whitewashed walls. $600 to $2,220; +55.21.3380.0200, www.santa-teresa-hotel.com

INSTITUTO MOREIRA SALLES
Designed by the Brazilian architect Olavo Redig de Campos and built in 1951, this cultural center is a landmark in Brazil’s modernist history, with its curving white walls, round marble columns, and gardens designed by longtime Niemeyer collaborator Roberto Burle Marx. Inside, a photography collection of more than 550,000 images includes works from some of the country’s greatest 20th-century photographers. +55.21.3284.7400, ims.uol.com.br

Antonio Bernardo
Streamlined shapes and innovative techniques lend an architectural element to Antonio Bernardo’s handmade jewelry, which is crafted at the artist’s private atelier and sold in his Ipanema store. Shown: Spiral cuff, $2,185; +55.21.2512.7204, www.antoniobernardo.com.br

Hotel Fasano
Philippe Starck designed this sleek, retro-meets-contemporary hotel on Ipanema Beach with numerous nods to Rio’s modernist heritage, from a sexy rooftop pool overlooking the Atlantic to designer furnishings from local greats. Current highlights at the hotel, which opened in 2007, include Sergio Rodrigues’s Poltrona chairs and a trove of midcentury pieces by Niemeyer himself. Nightly rates: $820 to $4,100; +55.21.3202.4000, www.fasano.com.br

Museum of Image and Sound Museum of Tomorrow
Two forthcoming museums promise to rank high on the list of Rio’s architectural wonders. Scheduled to open late this year, the Museum of Image and Sound, by the New York City–based design firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, will feature wraparound indoor/outdoor spaces influenced by the Copacabana setting. Next year will see the debut of the Spain-born, Zurich-based architect Santiago Calatrava’s Museum of Tomorrow, a soaring all-white structure that likely would have received Niemeyer’s approval.

Brazilian Style Exports
1STDIBS
An online showplace of fabulous finds—everything from furniture to fashion—1stdibs is the place to search for this chaise-style rocker by Oscar Niemeyer. The design, which incorporates bentwood, cane, leather, and brass, is one of only a dozen or so examples made in the 1970s by Brazil’s most famous architect. Shown: Rio, $28,000; www.1stdibs.com

MOURA STARR
With showrooms in Los Angeles, New York City, and Dallas, Moura Starr crafts furniture and lighting that highlight sleek metals and Brazil’s native—and naturally felled—woods. Imbuia and cabreuva, among others, form the basis for sustainable tables and chairs that redefine minimalism. Shown: Piano bar in high-gloss imbuia, $8,849; 212.888.9058, www.mourastarr.com

R 20TH CENTURY GALLERY
The Manhattan gallery represents some of Brazil’s top designers, from names like Joaquim Tenreiro to newcomers such as Julia Krantz. Shown: Krantz's Chaise Baleia, $18,000; 212.343.7979, www.r20thcentury.com  [J.C.]

Oscar Nods
CASA DAS CANOAS
This residence, built in the 1950s as Oscar Niemeyer’s family home, embodies the late architect’s obsession with curvilinear shapes and such modern materials as concrete, steel, and glass. Preserved today by the Niemeyer Foundation, the property features the architect’s original furnishings, and artwork by the Brazilian sculptor Alfredo Ceschiatti. Tours by appointment, +55.21.3322.0642, www.casadascanoas.com.br

SAMBADROME MARQUÊS DE SAPUCAÍ
Built in just 110 days for the 1984 Carnival, this recently renovated Niemeyer design exhibits swooping shapes that recall the fluid movements of samba dancers. www.sambadrome.com

PALÁCIO GUSTAVO CAPANEMA
Designed in collaboration with the French architect Le Corbusier (1887–1965), this office building was one of Niemeyer’s earliest works and marked the beginning of Brazil’s modernist movement. The blending of the two architects’ styles is apparent, with Niemeyer’s raised round columns and snaking walkways interrupting Le Corbusier’s strict block-style design.

MUSEU DE ARTE CONTEMPORÂNEA NITERÓI
Ten miles outside of Rio in the oceanfront town of Niterói stands this spaceshiplike museum—one of Niemeyer’s last creations. Known more for its futuristic aesthetic than its contemporary art collection, the clifftop building’s curving walls and dramatic leaning windows showcase stunning views of Rio and the Atlantic. +55.21.2620.2400, www.macniteroi.com.br

TEATRO POPULAR DE NITERÓI
The glass walls, spiraling ramps, and undulating concrete roof of Niterói’s Teatro Popular are indicative of Niemeyer’s evolving style during his later years. The yellow and green facade pays tribute to the Brazilian flag.

CONVERSE X OSCAR NIEMEYER 
Shortly before his death, Niemeyer partnered with Converse to design a collection of sneakers inspired by some of his most famous architectural works. $85 to $135, www.converseallstar.com.br  [J.C.]

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