By Tania Cavallo
September 12, 2014

Brazil was front and center on the world stage this summer as the host of the FIFA World Cup—now the country kicking off art fair season with DW! Design Weekend, the Bienal de São Paolo, and ArtRio. The team behind Artsy, the art collecting and education resource, has touched down in the nation of rainforests and concrete jungles, and we’re back on T+L to share our favorite gems.

Design specialist Alex Gilbert, who visited São Paulo for DW! Design Weekend last month, opted for a morning stroll through Ibirapuera Park, which reveals a cluster of Oscar Niemeyer’s reinforced concrete buildings including the flying saucer-like Oca Building.

This kind of juxtaposition of the natural and the manmade is everywhere in Brazil. Suzana Diamond, who was on the ground at the São Paolo Bienal last week, captured Studio Drift's "Fragile Future," which gracefully hangs over one of the old Matarazzo doors. “Its LED lights covered with hand-placed dandelion seeds achieve the perfect balance between nature and technology, the old and the new,” she said.

For a refreshing change of scenery, Gilbert recommends heading to Morumbi for a tour of architect Linda Bo Bardi’s house Casa de Vidro (Glass House). Bo Bardi’s put seeds down more than 60 year ago, and the vegetation has grown up lushly around this daring glass cube atop piloti. “All of the windows actually function as sliding glass doors,” she said, “leaving nothing between you and the forest.”

You can’t leave São Paulo without seeing the Hotel Unique designed by Ruy Ohtake—son of esteemed artist Tomie Ohtake—which remains at the top of the cool list in its tenth year. “The view from the rooftop restaurant is stunning, but the spa is truly one-of-a-kind,” Gilbert reports. “Did I mention there’s a waterslide?”

Speaking of hotels, in the ritzy Jardins neighborhood, rest up at the Hotel Fasano. “The sophisticated lobby bar is immensely handsome, but the Baretto jazz bar is where you should go for a very special occasion,” Gilbert advises.

Out on the coast in Rio de Janeiro—where the prominent contemporary art fair ArtRio is currently on view through September 14—Diamond meets with up with Artsy Specialist Julia Colavita. They’re lucky enough to get in a photo op with Vik Muniz, perhaps the most renowned Brazilian contemporary artist. Say queijo!