Since moving into this sixth-floor apartment in the centre of São Paulo, Houssein Jarouche has changed the furniture around perhaps once every three months. This chronic indecisiveness is understandable when you discover that, as founder of the city’s celebrated design store Micasa – as well as being a prolific artist and DJ – he has access to near-endless inspiration.
‘Every time I’m at an auction or a vintage store, I see something and think “Wow, I want to put this in my home,”’ he explains. ‘It makes it impossible to keep things the same.’
And it’s not just the furniture that’s changing. After moving into the three-bedroom flat with his wife Fabiana, a model and founder of upcycled fashion label FM_86, and children Aly and Nathalia in 2018, another member has been added to the family: five-month-old Amir.
Open-plan, painted a stark, gallery-like white and filled with some of the finest examples of furniture design – from mid-century Brazilian classics to pieces by Houssein’s hero Jean Prouvé and future icons by the likes of Patricia Urquiola – this home may seem like an ambitious choice for a couple with young children. And that’s before we mention the art collection. Everywhere you look you will see examples of Brazil’s radical concretism movement and original pop art – including the Campbell’s Soup Can by Andy Warhol that started this expansive collection when Houssein picked it up in New York back in 2005.
The couple have a cunning plan to keep these precious artworks away from sticky fingers, though. They simply hang them higher, out of reach. Not that they need to worry when it comes to Aly. ‘When friends come over to our apartment, he’ll tell them “This is art. Don’t touch it!”’ says Houssein, laughing. ‘He’s the bodyguard for my collection.’
Alongside these bold, bright masterpieces, you’ll also spot items that speak to Houssein’s Lebanese heritage. His parents moved to Brazil in 1952 and his father set up a furniture shop in a village on the outskirts of the city. ‘Today, all of my brothers still work with furniture, but I am the only one interested in design,’ says Houssein, reflecting on this legacy. ‘I am a part of this change in São Paulo. Twenty years ago, before I set up my store, customers here didn’t know about design. There are the classic Brazilian pieces of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, but after that the focus was on copying what had gone before. I think I have helped to change people’s perception of design and how important it is.’
When he’s not working to encourage up-and-coming local design talent or overseeing the Micasa showroom and exhibitions, which cover all of his passions from furniture to art and architecture, Houssein loves to party. The set of decks and vast stash of vinyl in his home attest to that. ‘It can be difficult in a building like this with neighbours,’ he admits, ‘but they like the music, so they don’t complain.’ micasa.com.br
This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration January 2020
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