A Calm Escape in Sao Paolo

Brazilian architecture firm MNMA has designed ‘Selo’—a peaceful, minimalist retail space in São Paolo which is inspired by the natural passage of time.


In any bustling, fast-paced city, moments of calm are hard to come by. For architecture firm MNMA, the chaotic backdrop of São Paolo served as an opportunity to provide escapism in the form of a paired-back interior for ‘Selo’—a local fashion company specializing in handmade shoes. Thoughtful detailing is abundant in the project. At the entrance of the shop, the ground has been leveled to match the height of the sidewalk—a considered choice that not only improves accessibility but also provides an uninterrupted transition from outside to in.



Continuing inside, the architects have utilized cylindrical interior walls to further enhance natural fluidity of the space. Curation of materials was a significant part of the process—the architects took time to thoughtfully pair tactile textures such as cement, wood paneling, and limestone with one another. While the interior was reaching completion, the natural expansion of the flooring caused large cracks to appear.



The architects saw this unexpected feature as something to be celebrated and adopted a Japanese joinery technique known as Kintsugi. In this process, cracks are filled with a precious gold liquid which, when solid, brings a new, unique feature to the space. The inclusion of a rounded skylight is again a clever reminder of the passage of time. Inspired by the work of artist James Turrell, this feature serves not only as a source of light but also provides a connection to nature as it mimics both the sun and moon.



Tania Quintanilla
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Tania was born in Monterrey, Mexico, and was raised in San Antonio, where she began her photography career shooting for her high school newspaper. After graduating at the top of her class from the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, Tania moved to Miami, where she honed her skills shooting editorial fashion and advertising. Now living in Austin since 2005, Tania takes great inspiration from the eclectic scene in the heart of Texas, given her wide-ranging interests from creative mixed-media work to illustration and design. Tania succeeds in crafting powerful and effective photographs by paying equally close attention to both the aesthetic beauty and technical quality of each image.