An interview with architect Marcio Kogan
An expert in modernist-inspired but truly contemporary and bespoke residential design, Marcio Kogan is coordinating from his Sao Paulo practice, Studio MK27, projects in Brazil as well as internationally. He also recently tried his hand at furniture design, creating a beautiful series of one-off pieces that he presented at the MiCasa design store.
Now seems to be a good time for Brazil. Would you agree?
Indeed, I do agree.
What instigated the change you think?
It was the economy, but I also have this theory that Brazilian architecture had a hangover after the modernism era! Le Corbusier came to design the Ministry of Education and Health and many local architects saw it and were inspired by it and transformed it into a Brazilian thing. In my opinion, this was even better than Le Corbusier. What was very interesting also is that in Brazil at the time, there was absolutely nothing; it was isolated from the world and then suddenly you get what may be some of the best architecture of the world.
The legacy of Modernism is so strong here that I wonder if, in any way, that could complicate things for contemporary Brazilian architects?
That may have been true before, but we are in a generation that is starting to turn this around. When I was in architecture school, I hated Niemeyer as all the teachers wanted us to follow his example, while I wanted to do something a bit different. Now, of course, I understand and fully respect his work.
What else should we visit in Brazil?
Undoubtedly, the Le Corbusier building in Rio as well as the Parque Guinle by Lucio Costa that's also in Rio.
What were your main influences? What elements of the Modernist movement did you keep in your architecture?
I think, in a way, it is the same Modernism, only after 50 years. It has a more contemporary vision, new materials and new technological options.
You father was also in the construction business. How did that influence you?
He passed away when I was young but still he was a huge influence for me. It must have been in my DNA! My house was exactly like Jacque Tati’s Villa Arpel (of Mon Oncle). They wanted to do a high tech house and it was the Fifties and everything was automatic. Technology didn't always work as well back then! When the tram went past our house and it stopped outside, we had a small power cut.
Do you consider you architecture to be quite Brazilian then?
Yes, it is quite Brazilian.
How would you describe Brazilian architecture? What would make your architecture Brazilian?
The openness and the huge integration of the interior and the exterior. This is also our mission when we design abroad: to open up the buildings to the outside world!
What you feel are the biggest advantages of being a young architect in Brazil today?
We have many advantages, but many problems too. We don't have many public building, but we have a lot of small buildings and private projects. The city of Brazil is a bit like the Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino: flexible and experimental and organic. It's still growing.
What else are you working on now?
A photographic studio in Sao Paulo, a condominium in Portugal, interiors of a hotel in Portugal with the same client. About 90% of our work is in private houses.
So, do you enjoy working mainly with private houses?
I do. I am very perfectionist and like detail. We often design everything in a house, from handrails to one-off pieces of furniture.