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Earlier this summer, Isay Weinfeld unveiled Jardim, the Brazilian architect’s first design in New York, which will be followed by the interior design of the new Four Season restaurant. Expected to open in 2017, the building is located at 527 West 27th overlooking the High Line beside Zaha Hadid’s new project. It resembles a garden of vegetation (as its name in Portuguese suggests) within the concrete jungle. Unlike so many other luxury condos going up in the area, Jardim’s two towers stand out for their humble, yet sophisticated allure honoring the blending of indoor-outdoor living, even within the parking space. At just 11 stories high, what makes the structure distinctive is an aura of imperturbable serenity. Whitewall was curious to know more about the reputable, eclectic, and tranquil spirit behind Weinfield that seems to transverse all of his designs.
WHITEWALL: Jardim is your first project in New York, how was your experience working for the first time in the city?
ISAY WEINFELD: It was a good experience. New York is not exactly new for me, I used to come here when I was very young, but it’s always very interesting to work in another place and in another culture and find the specific things that each place has different from the other. It’s exciting to work in places different from my own city, Sao Paulo.
WW: Jardim is very different from the neighboring buildings around the Highline. What was the statement you wanted to make with that design?
IW: I don’t want to make any statements. No, it’s the opposite. I don’t shout in my work, it’s not something about my ego. I am here to try to do the best design for my clients. Having pleasure and giving pleasure. Having pleasure in doing, taking life with pleasure. I’m not interested in whether the result is making a statement or not. It’s not something that I want hardly to express. I know that I am saying something but not with intention to say.
WW: In that case let me reformulate the question. What inspired you to design Jardim the way you did?
IW: Any piece of architecture is the result of some conditions you have: the budget, the city, the lot, each lot has restrictions, the sun orientation, the neighborhood, the intention of the client. Everything. All these restrictions constitute a data of problems that you put together and try to solve. What you then bring personally to solve each problem is different from one architect to the other. My inspiration, in this case, for me at least, is all that I saw in my life. The things that I love: music, films, dance, art, and theater. More than architecture, the things that surround and inspire me are in other areas. Everything that I saw and that had an impact on my life is a funnel that comes out in a building like this.
WW: What are your hobbies and interests outside of architecture?
IW: Music is the biggest with film I guess. I’m completely fascinated by cinema.
WW: Who are your favorite composers and movie directors?
IW: Do you have 4 hours? No? Well, my favorite filmmaker is Ingmar Bergman and now Lars Von Trier and Kinkie Duke. But my favorite filmmaker is Jacques Tati– He’s the most important man of my formative years. For music there is Gretty Myers, who’s a British composer, Radiohead, so many people from Juliette Greco to Kanye West, but these are just some examples. Maybe they all have something in common but I don’t think so. My tastes are very wide.
WW: You worked all over the world, if you had no budget, nor constraints, nor data as you say, a completely free card to pick a city in the world to do a new project, which city would that be?
IW: Venice, Italy and Luang Pra Bang in Laos. Venice because it’s so mysterious. I’m completely fascinated by the ambience and by the way the city flows. It’s something that I always try to put in my work: the surprise of the space. You are walking in a very narrow and simple street, and suddenly the space opens. This sensation is what I want to put in my work, and have people feeling the same kind of emotion than in the streets of Venice.