Alberto Pinto’s Rio de Janeiro Retreat via AD
Fresh off the plane from a lovely vacation in Mexico I wanted to share this beauty I had missed a few years back from AD. Artwork and bold colors with all the neutrals and a dash of leopard had me smitten.
Using vibrant colors and earthy textures, the interior designer conjures a virtual portrait of Brazil in the sun-splashed rooms of his apartment
When one’s working life is spent conceiving and installing some of the most impressively soigné interiors in the world, a laid-back personal refuge is practically an occupational requirement. For Alberto Pinto—a tastemaker whose staggeringly A-list client roster includes French banker Michel David-Weill, American industrialist David Koch, and Moroccan monarch Mohammed VI—that escape is a colorful four-bedroom apartment on Ipanema, the Rio de Janeiro beach that became a household word thanks to a 1960s bossa nova tune.
“The Latin ambience corresponds perfectly to my temperament, ” says the designer, who is based in Paris but was born in Casablanca to Argentine parents of Italian and French descent. “When I was young, I used to go to Brazil once or twice a year. It’s a nice, happy, cool country.” What better reasons to put down roots there? To that end, Pinto recently completed a villa for himself in Paraty, a 17th-century Portuguese colonial town. He also enjoys satisfying stretches of downtime at the Ipanema address, a duplex on the top two floors of a small building overlooking the Atlantic.
To remodel the Rio apartment, Pinto called on Thiago Bernardes of Bernardes + Jacobsen, a Brazilian architecture firm with a tropical-modernist approach. Bernardes knocked out the living room’s exterior wall to emphasize the views and replaced it with floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that open to a terrace. From the moment a visitor walks in, Pinto explains, “you are confronted by the immensity of the ocean.” The Atlantic and the rugged Cagarras archipelago compete for attention with a 33-foot-long terrace wall of fluttering orchids in shades of white, purple, yellow, and orange. “My friends and I spend a lot of time out there, ” Pinto says. “It’s where we take lunch and dinner or just lounge around.”
A host of some renown (“Alberto has so many napkins and so much china that he never sets the table the same way twice, ” marvels a friend, French society figure Jackie de Ravenel), the designer also wanted the size of the living room increased, which was done by annexing several smaller spaces. It’s now home to two seating areas equipped with lean sofas, 1950s Italian armchairs, and William Haines Hostess seats inviting guests to assume sultry Cariocan postures. Bisecting the sunny space is a minimalist open staircase framed in polished chrome that ascends to the second floor.
A sophisticated mingling of cultural influences has been a hallmark of Pinto’s work since the former photography agent took up interior design more than four decades ago, and he is keenly aware that geography can be decorating destiny. The mise-en-scène in his high-style Ipanema home, for instance, makes an anthropological statement, reflecting Brazil’s vibrant intersection of African, Amerindian, and Portuguese cultures as well as its rich zoological heritage. Leopard-fur cushions are scattered across one of the living room sofas, a nod to the jaguars of the Amazon rain forest (Pinto recycled ’50s leopard coats acquired at the Paris auction house Drouot). A similarly spotted cotton dapples the T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings chairs in the dining room. Since the latter space has no windows and therefore no entrancing views, Pinto felt the decor could be bolder, so he commissioned large panels made of thousands of butterfly wings (farmed, not wild) that echo the sumptuous feather capes of the indigenous Tupinambá people. Behind the panels is storage for tableware.
I am officially over winter and ready for all things tropical and bright!