Santos Apartment

Luiza Maraschin

Santos Apartment is a lovely renovation of a 1950s apartment in São Paulo, Brazil. The dwelling was designed by the multidisciplinary Brazilian design firm Atelier Peclat+Chow. The 120 square metre space is divided into an entry, kitchen, living room, and home office.

Upon entering the dwelling, we are met with a dramatic foyer comprised of polished wood. The foyer established a moment of arrival and creates a feeling of expectancy. This feeling quickly melds to a pleasant surprise at the space beyond, whose bright openness stands opposed to everything that came before.

On first arrival, the white-washed brick, covering the majority of the walls, immediately stands out. Brick, one of the most elementary building materials, was left intentionally exposed in Santos Apartment. This is an unusual choice for a minimalist design—the urge for entirely fresh, clean white walls is so often irresistible! Yet Santos Apartment breaks the stereotype that minimalist designs must be new, or without texture and variation. So often we think of minimalist spaces as perfect: a place for everything and nothing out of place. But who says Minimalism need to echo perfection? Less is more is just about finding the beauty in the existing as it is about bringing fewer things into our lives. Atelier Peclat+Chow calls this design style an essentialist approach: every element is essential in achieving a harmonious aesthetic.

Santos Apartment uses an existing material, the imperfect and aging brick, to set the stage for their essentialist design aesthetic. The undulating texture of the painted white bricks brings warmth and character to the dwelling. The variation of the bricks is enhanced by the other materials in the apartment; materials that were thoughtfully woven together in this unique space.

On the ceiling, a patterned white grid floats over each room. One’s attention is at once drawn upwards, enchanted by the unusual choice of ceiling structure. After a moment, though, the ceiling seems less unusual, less jarring, and a natural part of a space that encourages inspection of the details. Similarly, the bathroom tile demands a second look: the white subway tile mimics the surrounding brick and creates a playful juxtaposition between the old and new materials. Carrara marble, deeply coloured with its “imperfect” grey veins, adds a luxurious touch to the vanity.

It can feel a bit like clashing, with all of these strong materials in one small space. But the simplicity in colour, and in furnishings and decor prevents such a chaotic visual. The sequence of pattern and space in Santos Apartment makes for a lovely design story: one in which the viewer is always engaged but never overwhelmed.

The architects left no stone unturned in their attention to detail. All of the accessories in the apartment—faucets, door hardware, windows—all were designed by Atelier Peclat+Chow and manufactured locally. Some of the furnishings, including the sofa, coffee table, and kitchen table, were also designed by the architects. Further furnishings and art pieces in the home were highly curated, with an emphasis on modern Brazilian design.

Santos Apartment is a gorgeous interior project: with an ode to its 1920s past and modern Brazilian design, the apartment is truly lovely, and a worthy example of Atelier Peclat+Chow’s essentialist design philosophy.

In the shop