Step into the design heritage of Jorge Zalszupin
Led by Brazilian design brand Etel, Casa Museo Zalszupin preserves the Brazilian designer’s legacy and celebrates his impact on the design world
Casa Museo Zalszupin is a new cultural space in São Paulo, located in the spaces of the home of Brazilian design icon Jorge Zalszupin. The project was spearheaded by Etel CEO Lissa Carmona and is run as a shared initiative between Etel and São Paulo’s Almeida & Dale Art Gallery.
The intention is to preserve the late architect’s legacy, and future plans include an exhibition program focusing on his local art and design legacy, and the creation of the Jorge Zalszupin Institute in conjunction with his family.
São Paulo House by Jorge Zalszupin
The house still includes original elements from the 1960s and is camouflaged in a tropical garden characterized by century-old trees and lush vegetation. Details of architecture and decoration are closely related to Zalszupin’s furniture designs. A narrow entryway provides discreet access to the home, which opens into a spacious living room whose wavy pine ceiling nods to Scandinavian design, while a nearby jacaranda wood staircase celebrates Brazilian heritage.
Vernacular features throughout the house include rustic ceramic flooring and whitewashed walls. The house offers a glimpse into the architect’s life, with his personal office preserved intact after his death, and some additional decorative elements chosen by his wife, whose taste differs from his modernist aesthetic. “He designed it for himself and his family, which gave him the freedom to experiment and combine multiple inspirations,” observes Carmona. “With almost no renovations since its conclusion, it is a living record from that era.”
Carmona first visited the house in the early 2000s, when Zalszupin invited her to discuss the reissue of her design works by Etel. “He took us to his studio on the top floor, and we were immediately immersed in his beautiful drawings, his artistic experimentations and his architectural projects, and he showed us how he prototyped his projects using clay” , she recalls. “It was very special, because in that moment we could grasp the greatness of his legacy.”
Keen to preserve this legacy, Carmona decided to create an exhibition to celebrate Zalszupin’s work in design, architecture and art. “It was a show woven by the presence in the absence, on what remains after all”, she says. “It was a beautiful and successful tribute to Jorge Zalszupin, and how the past can coexist with the present.” The exhibition constituted the first steps towards the concept of Casa Museo.
Going forward, the goal is for the museum to become a cultural center, expanding its scope from exhibitions to educational initiatives, seminars, design research and more. An upcoming exhibition celebrating the 1922 Semana de Arte Moderna de São Paulo looks at modern Brazilian art, architecture and design, while later programming will look at the work of Brazilian designer Cláudia Moreira Salles. The year 2022, notes Carmona, marks the centenary of Zalszupin’s birth: “We are planning something that goes beyond the confines of the house,” she says. §