Monday, 27 July 2009

Sao Paulo - city of colour

If you love colourful places, you’re bound to be attracted to the bright lights of Brazil. I was totally wowed by the wonderful colours of Sao Paulo, when I stayed at the Hotel Unique earlier this year.

The hotel has been described as “an urban work of art”, “an architectural landmark” and a “reference in global hotel design”. The Unique was designed by Brazilian architect, Ruy Ohtake – and the unusual apartment style rooms were decorated by Joao Armentano.

Key features are the round porthole style windows (left), Brazilian wood floors in the rooms - and an incredible rooftop terrace, where you’ll find the most amazing crimson coloured swimming pool (right). The hotel is also very eco-friendly, with self-sufficient energy and a private supply of pure water.

The restaurant and bar are colourful by day, but at night, they come into their own as a showcase for the city’s beautifully illuminated skyline.

I asked Brazilian jewellery designer Marcelle Lawson-Smith to recommend some fashionable places to visit and soon discovered that colour abounds in other parts of Sao Paulo too. The popular Jardins area houses some stunning shops and restaurants, including Galeria Melissa – famed for its quirky plastic shoes, here displayed in futuristic plastic bubbles set against an African inspired backdrop – complete with life size models and photograhs of big game animals.

Brazilian style green foliage even extends indoors, with many restaurants housing a plethora of plant life. These include the romantic Figueira Rubaiyat, with its ancient, gigantic central fig tree and the modern Arthur Casas designed restaurant, Kaa, where tropical vegetation even grows on the walls.

If you’re big on design art then Sao Paulo’s also the city for floor to ceiling cocktail bars and amazing oversized handmade wooden furniture.

The old part of town is just as colour-infused – like the bustling municipal food market, with its exotic fruits and magnificent, huge stained glass windows.

Emerging areas, like the Italian suburb of Vila Madalena, (a bit like London's Notting Hill before it became world famous), have amazing character and curiously cool graffiti that would put even Banksy to shame.

This is the place to find great home furnishings, retro accessories and colourful clothing - like Farm’s Brazilian beach and casual wear (unfortunately no photos allowed). The outside of this hippy-chic boutique is also swathed in greenery, and there's a rather magical butterfly tree in the courtyard.

Food in Sao Paulo is as vibrantly vivid as the rest of the surroundings. The sushi at the Hotel Unique is highly recommended, as is the seafood at the Figueira restaurant. By the way, did you know that Sao Paulo has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan?

Finally, an enormous, brightly painted statue of St George and the Dragon takes pride of place at the Unique hotel entrance. I discovered that it’s probably not just beacause Saint George is the patron saint of Portugal – he also happens to be the patron saint of the Corinthians of Sao Paulo football team (in fact their ground is called St George’s Park).

So, if you’re into delicious food, stylish fashion, design art, football and fun, ShopCurious highly recommends a visit to this city of many colours.

Will you?


Eri said...

I am so jealous!
Breathtaking views nad great pics... ohh I miss SP :)
Can't wait to see your new look.

Lilee said...

beaut pics!

Rudy.. said...

I love the Food Market. I Was there last March and after two hours left it with at least 2kg more I'd say.