Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Miguel Pinto Guimarães ("MPG") for their original perspective and innovative approach to design as well as their creative lifestyle, we are very pleased to share our interview with our distinguished readers.

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?

MPG : I started as a trainee very early, still in high school. I was 15 then. I was pretty sure to become an architect. During childhood I was used to draw cities, boats, houses. It was natural for me to pursue these after school hours internships. I worked for a year with a very known architect in Brazil, and after that I went as a trainee into the office of Claudio Bernardes, one of the most important brazilian architectural firms. I was 16 then. From there, I entered in UFRJ (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro) to study architecture and urbanism. Already in the first year of college I started doing some interior projects, first the bedrooms of friends and a little beach house for two brothers in the land of their parents. That was in 1993. I continue designing for clients, parallel to the internship. In 1994 I decided to go out and open my own studio.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?

MPG : My passion for the arts in general. That's what I've always done, since I was little, to draw. It was my hobby, my greatest fun. I didn't surf, I didn't play ball. I drew. From Friday to Sunday, until dawn. It was natural for me to become a designer.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?

MPG : It was entirely my decision. My father even tried to push me into business. I was always a very good student so, I also entered the University of Economics, which I carried out together with architecture for a year. Then my calling spoke louder.

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?

MPG : Architecture. All types of buildings. We present in our portfolio, houses, apartments, penthouses, commercial and residential buildings, art galleries, museums, restaurants, schools, hotels, squares and urban parks, sports arenas. For the future we have focused on larger scale architecture and urban projects.

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?

MPG : Participate in competitions, architecture contests. It brings a lot of experience in different types of project, in argumentation and sales tools. It was something that I started to do very late and I regret it. As I began working very young, I quickly became quite known in the residential project market. We had a small size studio, with lots of clients and a lot of work. At the same time, my classmates were entering major competitions in architecture and urbanism, which made me quite jealous! I had professional success, made some money, but I lost the most romantic part of the profession! It was only after I getting older, with an established studio, that I could afford to devote some of my time to research, contests and competitions. However, I never lost contact with the academy. I kept close relationship with my teachers, master's students, I always participated in lectures and examining boards. Keeping contact with the academy is another valuable tip.

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?

MPG : Devotion. Knowledge. Values that are possible to achieve. The secret of success is 80% dedication and 20% inspiration.

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?

MPG : Mostly simplicity. Really good design should solve questions without show off, without unnecessary ornaments, without pretension.

DL: What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?

MPG : Architecture brings beauty and joy to people's lives. It organizes spaces, flows, energies. No doubt it improves your daily, your relationships. Good architecture brings optimism!

DL: What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?

MPG : It's not even a matter of time, it's a matter of money. The ideal world would be to work only for those who give us pleasure! And I'm fortunate to have pleasure with the vast majority of my clients. Unfortunately we have to work for those who bring us also problems. But the secret is to draw always to yourself! We must put ourselves in the client's shoes, understand their demands, their desires and their limitations. When working with these variables of the equation, the acceptance of the project will be mostly positive!

DL: What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?

MPG : My own house! It is being built! But, unfortunately, I do not have the time to dedicate myself to this project as much as I would like!

DL: What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?

MPG : Always maximum dedication. Lots of study. Understant deeply the history of Architecture. Get to know the work of the contemporary architects. And last but not least: be SIMPLE!

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?

MPG : There are several architects that I really admire around the world. Beginning with the visionaries Frei Otto and Sergio Bernardes, extending to the portuguese Eduardo Souto de Moura and Álvaro Siza, besides Ren Koolhas, Norman Foster, Herzog and de Meuron, Renzo Piano, Santiago Calatrava. I am fascinated by all contemporary Japanese, Toyo Ito, Shigeru Ban, Kengo Kuma. In Brazil, Claudio Bernardes has always been a reference, but I also admire the work of my contemporary colleagues Thiago Bernardes, Paulo Jacobsen, Arthur Casas, Isay Weinfeld, Marcio Kogan and FGMF.

DL: What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?

MPG : In architecture there are so many buildings I love that it would be impossible to name a few. So in this answer I choose to identify my favorite design products! The Lounge Chair by Charles and Ray Eames, the Tolomeo table lamp by Michele de Lucchi ang Giancarlo Fassina, All the wood furniture made by George Nakashima, the Saarinen table by Eero Saarinen, the Panton Chair by Verner Panton, All the paper lamps for Isamu Noguchi and the Coca-Cola bottle!

DL: What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?

MPG : One of my favorite projects is the Jockey Club Concert Hall, which nas never been built. It shows a deep understanding of the production of great shows, the result of many years of research and experience. It would be a very important cultural and tourist equipment for the city of Rio de Janeiro. And it was a complete operation, where I found the land, identified the demand on the market, raised the necessary funds, arranged the operator and the cutador, besides designing it. Sometimes in Brazil, being an architect is not enough. We have to be an entrepreneur.

DL: How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?

MPG : Nowadays, we all have to take care not only with our clients, but also with the community, how general public will react to our design, even if it is a private building. How it will impact the enviroment. Sustentability of our the planet is one of the main goals. These aspects must be intrinsic to our work and become natural, no longer a something to think and to worry about.

DL: If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?

MPG : If I were not an architect, I would certainly be a culture worker. I would still be into the creative industry. A designer, advertiser, illustrator. Creativity is the main characteristic of my personality.

DL: How do you define design, what is design for you?

MPG : Architecture and design are the art of bringing beauty and functionality to both public and private lives. Architecture, as well as art, also has the function of educating the eye. Seeing and living the good built art will create tools that can improve people aesthetics, who will always demand, from then on, cities with better services, better quality buildings and design of excellence. It is very important to always keep in mind that architecture and design should serve humankind. We must always project with the human scale in mind.

DL: Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?

MPG : No doubt the excellent professionals with whom I had the honor of get together. My former bosses, my old to current partners and especially my architectural team! I had the honor of leading, throughout my 25 years career, more than 200 professionals with whom I learned all that I know, who helped to create my studio reputation and to become the professional I am.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?

MPG : My curiosity and great capacity to learn and observe

DL: What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?

MPG : Luckily, I have never had any major difficulties throughout my professional life. As I started working very early, graduating might have been one. Achieving equal dedication to university life and working was a challenge. At the same time, entering the labor market so young, but with great experience, is often cause for prejudgement. I always thank all my clients who bet on me from the beginning.

DL: How do you think designers should present their work?

MPG : Nowadays electronic mock-ups represent practically the reality. Models, AR, 3D prints are already present. Clients, especially young, are no longer formatted to understand projects, floor plans, drawings. Only reality prototypes. This is an industry in which we have to adhere to and invest heavily.

DL: What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?

MPG : We are projecting the greatest gastronomic market of Rio de Janeiro, the "Mercado do Rio" on the new docks district, maybe the main touristic area of the city, next to both "Museu do Amanhã" and "Museu de Arte do Rio". It is inspired by most of the european Markets, such as Mercado da Ribeira in Lisbon, Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid, Markthal in Rotterdam. It will host forty of the best food labels

DL: What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?

MPG : Have received three A'Award prizes. Two gold and one silver. It is an honor to have our work laureated internationally by such an important award.

DL: What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?

MPG : They always expect a increasingly work of excellence. As in the beginning of my career I became known for my work in residential architecture, all kinds of clients of my studio, from such diverse areas as gastronomic industry, hotel chains, educational complexes and others, they all seek all the qualities of a good home. It is always necessary to stamp an atmosphere of comfort, well-being, ambiance in any scale of architecture. My contractors want their clients to feel at home being at a hotel, a restaurant or an art gallery.

DL: How does design help create a better society?

MPG : Architecture is the art of bringing beauty and functionality to both public and private spaces. Cities are living organisms and both urbanism and architecture act as remedies, as surgical interventions that heal various tissues, organs, and reorganize circulations and energies. Architecture also has the function of educating the eye. Only living with the good built art will create tools that improve to the aesthetics of the citizen, who will always demand a city with better services, better quality buildings and design of excellence. It is very important to always keep in mind that architecture should privilege the individual. We must always design with the domain of the human scale.

DL: What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?

MPG : Currently we have about 40 ongoing projects. They are houses from north to south of Brazil. Mainly in São Paulo and Rio, urban and interior, and in the states of Minas Gerais, Bahia and Maranhão. However, the most interesting projects being developed in the office now are the Hotel Joá, with 40 bungalows in the middle of the urban forest of Rio de Janeiro and a Beach Resort in Una-Bahia with 100 bungalows and 40 villas. We are also developing two residential buildings on the beaches of Ipanema and Leblon. In addition we are projecting the great gastronomic market of Rio de Janeiro, the "Mercado do Rio", in the main tourist area of the city. We are also planning the Masterplan of the Caiçaras Club in Rio and Paulista Equestrian Society in São Paulo. And we will launch next month my the first project as an architect and entrepreneur, together with Sergio Conde Caldas, also an architect. The Opy.Ará, a condominium of luxury houses, with approximately 400 square meters each around the Botanical Garden in Rio de Janeiro.

DL: Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?

MPG : The new resort that we just designed in Bahia, on the north coast of Brazil. It is a complex completely integrated in nature, covered by sand and native vegetation. It is our manifesto of non-architecture that we are implementing in some recent projects. It is our intention to make architecture disappear in the landscape. It is our option for discretion and not for spectacle. It is also a gesture of generosity with nature. The project is made of two main buildings, 100 bungalows splitted on the sea waterfront, at the edge of the lagoon and in the river banks that all over the land and also in the middle of the forest. The project also contains 40 villas with 3 to 5 bedrooms for sale.

DL: What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?

MPG : Especially in Brazil, the architect's profession is extremely depreciated. In the interior design or decoration for example, the clients often pay more for a sofa than for the the whole architecture project. The real state market also does not give the proper value to the architect. In most of the cases, It pays more for brokers, 3d images, for the models, for the marketing agency, than for the author of the project. It is total nonsense, an inversion of values. This has being changed very slowly. Today, some companies already understand the difference of a good project that only are a good architect can provide. Not long ago, we were just contracted to endorse a real estate bad product. We designed just the façade, common areas or so, bringing some dignity to the bad projects. Today, many times, we project full real state developments. From its conception to interiors. It's a brutal difference in quality when it happens. In order to this to change quickly, it is necessary to improve that eye education I was talking about in previous answers. It is important that clients understand which is a good architecture and which is bad, and reject the second one. Only when consumers change, the real state market will adapt.

DL: Where do you think the design field is headed next?

MPG : We have to keep an eye on the new ways of designing and presenting the projects. AR and 3D printing will completely change architecture and design production. Prefab buildings in architecture also deserve our attention. They will change industry.

DL: How long does it take you to finalize a design project?

MPG : My architecture projects take different times to be designed. A restaurant, for example, can be designed in three months. A house in six. A hotel or a school can take up to a year or more of project time. Design time depends on the full area to be projected and on its complexity.

DL: When you have a new design project, where do you start?

MPG : In architecture, from the site itself. When visiting a site, for example, we already have a clear vision of what would be the best project. And this project is developed in details in your mind in the following days. When we sit down to draw, it is completely ready on my head. Except when it is not! So when inspiration doesn't come, it's time for hard work!

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?

MPG : Be simple!

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?

MPG : Design sets the trends. When design is good, it goes over it. Good design is immune to tendencies and survives the passage of time.

DL: What is the role of technology when you design?

MPG : Technology always moves faster than art. Our role is to overtake her in this race. Technology should serve architecture and not architecture be slave to technology.

DL: What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?

MPG : I always start with paper and pencil. I am quite old-fashioned. When my sketch is passed to my team of architects, we work on VectorWorks, AutoCAD e ArchiCAD (BIM), Sketchup and 3DMax.

DL: What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?

MPG : I am not a colorfull architect. We work mainly in white, shades of gray, beiges, sometimes dark blues and greens. We love the color that come from the natural materials. All the pale oranges and browns from wood, greys and beiges from stones. However we are frankly opened to several greens and colors from the garden plants and flowers, blues from sky and sea, hot palette from sunrises and sunsets. Man made spaces must be neutral to be invaded by the powerful colors from Nature.

DL: What do you wish people to ask about your design?

MPG : Our biggest goal is to make people feel the architecture. I want to reach peoples senses. The architecture must propose answers not questions.

DL: When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?

MPG : I feel joy! It's exciting to see novelties and beauty in architecture and design. I am also very proud when colleagues sign new and innovative buildings.

DL: Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?

MPG : I do believe in co-design! I had a major partner for more than ten years and the co-creation was a reality. What happens is that, as in many times the project is elaborated in our mind in different places and not necessarily in the office, the main idea always comes from one of the creators. Others are responsible for elaborating, improving, and criticizing it. According to the operation of my studio, I am responsible for the conceptual sketch and my team proceeds the project from there on. There so I consider our architects co-authors of my projects.

DL: Which people you interacted had the most influence on your design?

MPG : My former boss, Claudio Bernardes and his son, my partner for more than a decade, Thiago Bernardes. I worked with Thiago for three years as trainees and other 12 as a partner in two different studios. We never separated professionally. We work together sporadically, We compete in some projects and we visit ourselves frequently. More than an admirable colleague, he is a friend to life. We learned our craft together. We took our the first steps together in the tricky world of architecture. We have always been complementary in our different personalities and that fact has both enriched our work and led to our scission. I often miss his partnership and critical eye that forced me to abandon a project path that I knew was bad and in which I would waste precious time. Of course our architecture has many similarities. We had the same master, his father, Claudio Bernardes.

DL: Which books you read had the most effect on your design?

MPG : Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino; Pillars of The Earth, by Ken Follet; The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand; Flicts, by Ziraldo; Oh! The Places You'll Go, by Dr. Seuss (This one does not affects my design, but guide my and my kids lives)

DL: How did you develop your skills as a master designer?

MPG : Watching and observing everything and everyone around. I have a very powerful visual memory. All the visual information, being architecture, design, theater, cinema, visual arts and many others, feed my repertoire and my creativity.

DL: Irrelative of time and space, who you would want to meet, talk and discuss with?

MPG : Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th. Dalai Lama George-Eugène Haussmann William Shakespeare Walt Disney Le Corbusier Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Walter Gropius Antoni Gaudi Richard Neutra Richard Wagner

DL: How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?

MPG : Humility is essential for a creator. Awards, recognition, none of this matters. The architecture is long-lived, but it is finite. One day it will be destroyed. One day a new building will be built upon your project. And this is welcome. What will make me infinite and immortal are the friendships and relationships I've made through architecture.

DL: What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?

MPG : Color: Gray; Place: Inside Nature; Food: Pizza; Season: Autumn; Thing: Coca-Cola; Brand: Taschen

DL: Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?

MPG : I wrote earlier that I spent my childhood drawing cities, boats, houses. I still have kept an immense amount of drawings realized from 9 to 14 years. Looking at them nowadays, I recognize a high architectural quality. Some of them are framed in the living room of my house. At the same time, my wife is a great contemporary art collector. We have many important art pieces and we usually promote dinners for international artists, curators, and collectors. In one of these meetings, Pablo de la Barra, an important curator of the Guggenheim, said that among all of our art works, the ones that he would love to have at the museum's collection are my own childhood drawings.

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?

MPG : There is no doubt that the best sensation of our profession is to have a project approved by the client without any alteration, after a presentation. That really makes my day!

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?

MPG : Answered on 1st. and 48th. questions. I was sure I was going to be an architect. I always drew a lot, and with great talent. I still keep some drawings of that time. They were cities, boats, houses and they all show a high architectural quality.

DL: What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?

MPG : The way the political leaders and the population manage the natural resources and the planet, there will be no future. The future of the world is definitely compromised. Design has a special role in solving this. About the future of architecture, I always joke that the target of all architects should be design beautiful ruins. The architecture is finite!

DL: Please tell us anything you wish your fans to know about you, your design and anything else?

MPG : One tip for all is never abandon the child that exists within us. Joviality is essential for the longevity of our architecture. The architect should never grow old. Must pass right from childhood to eternity.



Grabowsky House

Grabowsky House by Miguel Pinto Guimarães

Nascimento Chapel

Nascimento Chapel by Miguel Pinto Guimarães

Eleva School

Eleva School by Miguel Pinto Guimarães

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