Step into Jorge Zalszupin’s design legacy

Step into Jorge Zalszupin’s design legacy

Led by Brazilian design brand Etel, Casa Museo Zalszupin preserves the Brazilian designer’s legacy and celebrates his impact on the design world

Casa Museo Zalszupin is a new cultural space in São Paulo, set within the spaces of Brazilian design icon Jorge Zalszupin’s home. The project was spearheaded by Etel CEO Lissa Carmona, and is managed as a shared initiative between Etel and São Paulo’s Almeida & Dale art gallery.

The intention is to preserve the late architect’s heritage, and future plans include an exhibition programme focusing on his local art and design legacy, and the creation of the Jorge Zalszupin Institute in collaboration with his family.

Jorge Zalszupin’s São Paulo Home

Tropical garden and entrance to Jorge Zalszupin house, Casa Museo Zalszupin, in Sao Paulo

The house still includes original 1960s features, and is camouflaged within a tropical garden characterised by century-old trees and lush greenery. Details of the architecture and decor closely relate to Zalszupin’s furniture designs. A narrow entrance offers discreet access to the house, which opens with an expansive living room whose wave-like pine ceiling references Scandinavian design, while a nearby staircase in jacaranda wood celebrates Brazilian heritage.

Vernacular features throughout the house include rustic ceramic flooring and whitewashed walls. The house offers a glimpse into the architect’s life, with his personal office kept intact after his death, and some more decorative elements chosen by his wife, whose taste differed from his modernist aesthetic. ‘He designed it for himself and his family to live in, which gave him the freedom to experiment and combine multiple inspirations,’ observes Carmona. ‘With almost no renovations since its conclusion, it’s a living record of that time.’

White sofa against a stone wall in Jorge Zalszupin’s Sao Paulo house, now Casa Museo Zalszupin

Carmona first visited the home in the early 2000s, when Zalszupin invited her to discuss the re-edition of his design works by Etel. ‘He took us to his atelier on the top floor, and we were immediately immersed in his beautiful drawings, art experimentations, and architecture projects, and he showed us how he prototyped his projects using clay,’ she recalls. ‘It was very special, because at that moment we could grasp the grandiosity of his legacy.’

Concerned with preserving this legacy, Carmona decided to create an exhibition to celebrate Zalszupin’s work in design, architecture and art. ‘It was a show woven by the presence in absence, about what remains after all,’ she says. ‘It was a beautiful and successful homage to Jorge Zalszupin, and how the past can coexist with the present.’ The exhibition formed the first steps towards the Casa Museo concept. 

Jorge Zalszupin studio at his house in Sao Paulo, now Casa Museo Zalszupin

In future, the aim is for the museum to become a cultural centre, expanding its scope from exhibitions to education initiatives, seminars, design research and more. An upcoming exhibition celebrating São Paulo’s 1922 Semana de Arte Moderna looks to Brazilian modern art, architecture and design, while later programming will look at the work of Brazilian designer Cláudia Moreira Salles. The year 2022, Carmona notes, marks the centenary of Zalszupin’s birth: ‘We are planning something that overflows the limits of the house,’ she says. §

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