“While working on the 2017 collections, using a lot of precious stones, coconuts and natural materials, something brought me back to Brazil. It’s the country I lived in for quite a few years, when I was much younger – and to this very day, it brings back so many great memories. Memories not just of white beaches, palm trees, rainforests and waterfalls, but also of creativity, art, music, architecture and traditional food. Brazil is such an inspiring country, which is exactly why I chose to rediscover it, along with its many treasures. I’ve decided to revisit the places that once inspired me, and discover new ones along the way, all to trigger the creative spark that drives our new collection. So let me take you on a journey pass one of my favourite Brazilian places – and be amazed.
Tranquility and abandoned beaches with natural swimming pools can be found in Trancoso, Bahia. In the old days, the Bahian coast attracted early Native American Indian tribes and Portuguese explorers. In the 70’s, the fishing village was discovered by Brazilian hippies and artists, free spirits who were looking for the easy going life. Right there, you can find true, cultural history of Brazil – and a melting pot of people who live for art, craft and local food. UNESCO decided that the square, the Quadrado of Trancoso, is world heritage. Not only can you find the beautiful white church overlooking the Atlantic Ocean there, but you can also enjoy the view of protected fisherman houses in all different colours – unchanged since they were built more than 500 years ago. It’s the place where the locals still play football every night and each evening, after sundown, the candles under the trees and around the Quadrado are lit. You’ll find that being there, brings an intense feeling of happiness – a feel-good energy that tells you you’ll need nothing more than a little Caipririnha cocktail and a comfy chair while watching the local crowd and their daily life.
I guess that is why Wilbert Das, a Dutch designer from a city close to my hometown, changed his life and dedicated it to that special energy flowing in Trancoso. He created the most stunning Uxua hotel there – of which the name was given by the Pataxó Indian tribe who still live at the entrance of the national Barra Velha park, 36 km away from Trancoso. Uxua is one of the most stunning hotels I’ve ever seen, where everything inside is designed or made with local products – made by locals and designed by Wilbert. Anything, from lamps, spoons, cushions and decoration. Wilbert, who was the creative director and fashion designer for Italy’s Diesel for more than 20 years, purchased the abandoned artists’ commune on the Quadrado in 2006 and completely transformed the traditional Bahian houses. Uxua is the result of that transformation. I had the chance to meet him and asked him about the driving force of his success. “Authenthicity”, was his reply. “When you do something with your heart, people will notice it. It’s not that difficult.” I found Wilbert to be a very inspiring person, and Uxua a little piece of paradise.
What triggered me most during my visit was the fact that our Urban Nature Culture brand still stands at the very beginning – and there’s still so much more to discover and share. Seeing the upcycling in Uxua made me incredibly happy, and taught me about the various techniques of traditional, Brazilian weaving. I brought back new ideas for pottery, vases and other tableware – which we’ll be seeing in our upcoming collections. Techniques of weaving baskets – very different from the way it’s done in other parts of the world. Re-using old materials in a contemporary way. Speaking the Brazilian language, I spoke to a lot of people who are involved in home decoration or fashion, in order to discover Brazil’s secrets and many possibilities. I talked to people specialized in the Brazilian art – people who left behind their secure life of Paris and closed their gallery in Le Marais in order to live in Trancoso and feel that unique energy.
There’s endless possibilities in Brazil, and despite being a country where you need to be patient when trying to create a collection – it’s incredible to see how much creativity you can find there. I hope that you’ll find that same creative spirit to be present in our upcoming collections – driven by the Trancoso energy”.