Inspired by the nationalities of its owners, the modern home design of this Brazilian home by Humberto and Fernando Campana combines South American tropical influences with sleek Italian style to surprising effect.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Inspired by the nationalities of its owners, the modern home design of this Brazilian home by Humberto and Fernando Campana combines South American tropical influences with sleek Italian style to surprising effect.
My Reading Room

Few may have heard of the Campana brothers prior to their first solo design exhibition in Sao Paolo in 1989 but, since then, the studio headed by Humberto and Fernando has risen to the top of its game with an extensive list of projects commissioned by world-renowned furnishing and fashion brands such as Lasvit, Bernadaud, Edra and Fendi. Their repertoire of works also takes pride of place in museums around the world, from the Vitra Design Museum in Germany, to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.  

Yet it was a leap of faith when homeowners Solange Ricoy and Stefano Zunino engaged Estudio Campana to design their family home, as the Campana brothers had never taken on a residential project before.    

The property, located in the upmarket Jardim Paulista neighbourhood within Sao Paulo city, sits on a long and narrow plot of land. During the initial discussions, the homeowners were clear about what they wanted. 

“Privacy is of utmost importance to the family, so we needed a facade that would prevent passers-by from looking into the house. However, the home has to remain airy so there is a cross-ventilation of natural breezes leading into the back garden,” Solange explains. This would allow the family (including sons Niccolo, Costantino, Matteo, and daughter Benedetta) to enjoy the best of both outdoor and indoor living. 

My Reading Room

The couple’s other requirement was for a multilevel bookcase that would become the focal highlight of the home. “It had to be large enough to accommodate 1,000 titles,” she points out.  

With the land size measuring a mere 14m wide, the design studio had to derive a concept that could maximise the available space. “This home design became an exercise in volume, light, and functionality,” Humberto says. 

At the same time, the brothers were careful not to over-indulge in decking the interiors with their own furniture designs. “It would have been very dictatorial if we had just used our furniture,” Fernando explains. “It’s not a Campana showroom.” 

The 7,136sqf rectangular structure floats like an island in a pool of green grass, framed by walls painted green and covered with climbing fig. 

My Reading Room

As one approaches the home, the unusual facade becomes the home’s most outstanding feature. Covered in straw made from the piassava palm – commonly used for making brooms and roofs of beach kiosks in Brazil – it resembles a thick fur pelt. 

Beneath the main living area, the basement leads out to a yard with artistic landscaping that’s situated next to the staff quarters and garage. The theme here focuses on the use of cacti in the central garden. 

The brothers wanted a simple topography for the garden that “proposed a dialogue with the outdoor iron furniture pieces, which seem to have grown into the landscape.” They kept all the trees on the original site, including mango and pitanga trees, and planted six erythrina coral trees: “They are like a sculpture tree. They lose all their leaves in winter, leaving a very delicate red bloom,” explains Fernando. 

The living room, library, kitchen, and main terrace are on the first level, while the second floor is dedicated to the children’s bedrooms and a spacious balcony stretching across the rear facade of grey-painted concrete. 

My Reading Room

The focal piece of the living room is a gigantic silver mirror that dominates the back wall. The hardwood floors were reclaimed from the previous house on the same site, while the kitchen features orange Silestone-tiled floors that “bring a bit of warmth and cosiness”, according to Humberto. 

The master bedroom on the top floor is surrounded by an outdoor terrace, creating the impression of a loft-like penthouse unit. Here and there, punches of colour brighten up the simply clad interiors. 

“The master bedroom is designed with a transparent roof for the homeowners to enjoy the sunlight,” Humberto says. Wood from a fazenda farm in Londrina finds new life as flooring here, while a metal fireplace is hung from the ceiling to keep away the winter chill. 

The bathroom is white and in marble, a nod to the Italian classicism of Stefano’s home country. A private terrace offers the couple a private outdoor space where they can head to before retiring for the night. 

“The mandacaru cactus is a very popular  choice in the countryside to create fences, so we used it here for an element of privacy,” Humberto explains.

My Reading Room

What most visitors will remember is the gigantic leather-wrapped bookcase. “The design of the house centres around the library. It’s the signature piece,” says Stefano. “It’s like an animal living inside the house.” 

Humberto adds that the bookcase was made of leather pieces hand-glued, one by one, over a wood structure. “We wanted to create something like a plant that invades the house,” Fernando continues. “The house is very clean, so we created those elements to bring strong, organic emotion into the home and the facade.” 

For this family, the completion of their new abode far surpassed their expectations and has come to be as much a cherished part of their lives, as it is the talk of the town. 

“The indoor and outdoor spaces merge beautifully and the children enjoy as much time outside as they do within,” Solenage says. 

“What’s more, it’s easy for our friends to find our home now, because all they have to do is to look out for the unusual facade.” 


Estudio Campana,