A high energy architecture firm deconstructs, then elevates, a 1980s suburban office building by creating dynamic spaces designed to attract more distinguished tenants.
Melanie and Chris Tantillo have teamed up on more than their marriage. The architect and his wife, who works in commercial furnishings, joined forces to bring keen vision and sophisticated taste to the Research Plaza project, which had them literally thinking outside the box of a dated office space.
For starters, the architect completely transformed the space by stripping out many of the old trappings such as numerous fake columns that stood eight feet apart, opening up the environment with design features by raising the ceiling and putting in a soffited light fixture; dropping down the second-floor windows for a more light-filled first floor that offered a better view on the plaza; and installing a glass railing in place of an old one.
While elevating the property they were careful not to overpower it. True to form they layered with texture and materiality, using elegant furnishings that were durable and looked good from afar, yet held up to close scrutiny through excellent craftsmanship. From their place of prominence inside the glass overlooking the plaza, the Sossego upholstered Gisele armchairs by Aristeu Pirès welcome visitors to come in and have a seat.
“Our client of 17 years, Rubenstein Partners, has high standards, which we always try to exceed,” Chris Tantillo told us. “When the job was finished after 8 months, they said, ‘This project is transformative. We’re very happy with the results,’ and Melanie and I agree. We’d love to keep using Sossego products on all our projects, quite frankly.”
In 2016 Chef Brandon Jew launched contemporary Chinese restaurant Mister Jiu’s in San Francisco. In Chicago, Jonathan Durling was opening his Sossego showroom to introduce modern Brazilian design to North America. For both men, it was the start of something big.
In a four-story Chinatown building constructed in the 1850s, up-and-coming chef Brandon Jew envisioned a modern restaurant that would celebrate the legacy of traditional Chinese food, In the planning and reconstructing of the enormous space, designer Michael Soelter went on the hunt for beautiful pieces that fit his imagining of the building they had taken down to the studs.
In his search, Soelter became enamored with the artistry of Aristeu Pires, designer of modern Brazilian furniture just then on display at the newly opened Sossego showroom at Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. The designer could picture Mister Jiu diners relaxing over sea urchin, barbequed pork, or tea-smoked duck in chairs of buttery smooth Jequitibá or Louro Freijó wood as they conversed around tables set beneath gold lotus chandeliers. When they placed an order for the chairs, he gave Sossego its first big sale.
If Brandon Jew was reimagining the Cantonese cuisine of his youth in an exquisitely designed setting when he gave birth to Mister Jiu’s, so, too, had Sossego’s Durling drawn on memories of his early years – those spent swaying to sleep in the comfort of a hammock that hung above his parents’ bed – when he pondered bringing modern Brazilian design and craftsmanship north.
In doing so, Durling introduced a way for diners in restaurants like Mister Jiu’s to enjoy their dining experience surrounded by beauty, comfort, and a bit of sossego, which in Portuguese means “a uniquely Brazilian way of being marked by calmness and tranquility.”
A multi-family apartment building in Florida breaks all the rules for what common areas should look like when its architect-design team, who are husband and wife, take a holistic approach.
Iconic mid-century architect Gene Leedy provided major inspiration for Jessie Shell’s love of modern design. Her husband Fadi Garcia, a Cuban immigrant whose primary influence for becoming an architect was Havana’s modern movement, shares her ideals of the built environment. Together they’ve embraced holistic design, which is to connect architecture and design.
Their philosophy is to make architecture “of its place”: influenced by the building’s site, climate, and environment. At Sur Club that meant creating functional, comfortable gathering places in expansive, light-filled spaces. In true mid-century style, finding good synergy between the amenity spaces and the courtyard itself.
Working within the developer’s standard project budget, the team looked for timeless, beautiful furniture. “With all that light, we didn’t want to ground the floor too much,” Shell reflected. “That’s when we came across Sossego. One of the great things about the pieces is they are very light. And they offered a broad range of furniture to help create inviting spaces.”
The couple was also sold on the selection and authentic materials Sossego offered: real leather and warm Brazilian wood that contrasted with the space itself. A curvy Domingos Tortorà Frisos Disk that undulates with light. The ropes on the Giselle chair that mimic vertical design features the couple created. And the Ylla bench, with curves that suggest a canoe moving through water. “Our client was just blown away,” Shell recalls. “People come into the building just to look at the amenity spaces, and the apartments have filled up fast. We hope to keep raising the bar. Good design really sells.”
A West Village pied-à-terre in the trendy Manhattan neighborhood gave Tina Ramchandani the chance to show off her chops for designing small clusters around her clients’ desire to entertain and make the most of New York’s cultural scene.
Designer Tina Ramchandani took inspiration from the undulating, angular design of the new building her clients moved into when she chose the furniture for her client’s residence. She brought in her “soulful minimalism” design ethos when choosing warm and modern pieces that reflected the personalities of the couple, whose primary residence is in Puerto Rico.
Entertaining at their city home was high on the couple’s list of intentions for the space, so Ramchandani designed separate areas for cocktails, dining, and conversation while taking in city views, creating flow between areas by integrating a neutral backdrop with deep, rich wood tones rather than bright colors.
With space at a premium, the designer chose furniture that was stylish but smaller in scale, such as swivel chairs that took up less space than traditional versions. With clean and curvy lines, the Duda stool sold itself when Ramchandani brought one to her initial meeting with the clients, who sat in it throughout the meeting and found it was not only comfortable, but cast a sculptural silhouette they loved.
“The warmth of the hand-hewn jequitibà wood sourced in the rain forest reflect the craftsmanship of the maker,” reflected the designer. “With many comfortable, good-looking stools on the market, the Duda comes with a story I love sharing with my clients, and they can tell it to their friends.”
A designer channels the natural geology of Arizona to create an extraordinary urban space to advance post-secondary educational opportunities for the underserved. What could be more inspiring?
The Helios Education Foundation had a clear vision for its new unified campus: create a building that will last at least 100 years that is so thrilling, our partners can’t wait to come inside and exchange ideas. The architect and design teams created an atmosphere of wellness that evokes the features and colors of the nearby mountains and desert.
Visitors decompress from the moment they enter the “car park”, where works by Latin artists hang amid natural features: healing plants, native trees; a two-story cascading curtain of greenery; a rain chain; benches carved from Eucalyptus trees removed during construction then dried for a year.
The client’s emphasis on sustainability and comfort led the designer to Sossego. “So much of the other furniture looked alike,” they reflected. “The care, design, details, and human touch that went into the craftsmanship sold us. When creating indoor and outdoor spaces that invite spirited conversation, we chose materials for the Sossego pieces that play off and connect with features we incorporated, like the greenery that runs in patterns like water down angular mountain-like walls.
In this way, the raw cotton roping on the Giselle rocker draws the eye to the rope chain that’s visible from several different places in the building. “We were able to keep the same “language” from space to space. We didn’t just pick out a bunch of furniture, we chose pieces that reinforce the interior and the architecture.”
For Workflow, curating an eclectic blend of moveable furniture for amenity spaces with a singular view of the Boston seaport meant finding pieces whose scale and silhouette let the view come through.
The team at Workflow was well-suited to furnish multiple public environments at the mixed-use building in Boston’s seaport. As designers and architects themselves, the team embraced its role selecting and procuring furnishings, storage, and accessories that complimented the architecture while the building was still under construction.
With competition for big tenants fierce, Workflow sought furniture that would evoke high-end hospitality, so they looked for pieces made with rich, natural materials like leather and wood that were interesting to look at from different angles. For the bar, the backs of Sossego’s Duda stools were beautiful without blocking the design of the bar itself.
Workflow was blending airy, modern pieces with a variety of wood tones from 40 different manufacturers. They loved how the scale and design of Sossego’s Angela armchair played well with the other pieces – a solid, high-style silhouette yet light on its feet. Important because tenants may rent the spaces for events, so furniture must be easy to move.
It turns out eclectic, modern, and unfussy go well with playful and fun, for an overall vibe that’s sophisticated but still attractive to tenants with a young workforce. And there’s always that gorgeous, unobstructed view of the harbor; from out on the terrace and from the interior spaces. A marriage of good design and careful curation of just the right pieces.
With its sweeping view of the ocean, a California home gave Denise Morrison a chance to use her skill balancing environment, furniture, and an art collection so prolific she named it after the Museum of Modern Art.
Designer Denise Morrison recalls connecting strongly with the Corona del Mar home. “From the beginning, the tremendous use of steel, wood, and custom lighting made it a favorite. With a view of the Pacific, it was a real showstopper,” she recalls. The client’s extensive art collection added to the work of balancing and layering it all, putting the project squarely in her sweet spot.
With clients who were “creative, open to all ideas,” Morrison’s design intelligence kicked in as she sought ways to keep the view unimpeded. Things like a slatted office wall and sculptural but unobtrusive furniture worked beautifully. When she saw the Angela armchair and Lily stool at Sossego’s AD space, she knew they would help her play on the contrast between very light whites and strong darks through use of texture, wood, and fabric.
“I had the opportunity to sit in those chairs, and absolutely loved the way they felt. Aesthetically, they’re just so beautiful, they almost feel sculptural,” she reminisced. “The silhouette was so beautiful they complemented these fully elevated artful moments throughout the house. The leather back fold over is textural, pretty, and “gives” comfortably. For the downstairs bar, the leather lends a nice masculine feel.”
Sossego’s modern design integrated well with the art and even the antiques I used, the designer recalls. “I love to surprise people, pushing the envelope to find flow and balance. Layering that way is intentional – but also tricky. A client feels at home and enjoys seeing things that are fun and fresh mixed with the pieces they love. As a design team, we love working with Sossego products. We completely trust in the quality and know we’ll have something extraordinary in its beauty and its build.”
Designing a workspace for themselves in a historic brick and beam loft gave Workflow a chance to integrate products from its own roster of 50 go-to manufacturers into a layered and cohesive environment.
Workflow became its own client when they expanded their offices into a vacant upper floor of their historic loft building. With its small footplate, that meant getting rid of drywall and cubicles to open the space and install an eclectic mix of furniture that showcase an inviting hospitality aesthetic.
They did so through skillful layering and soulful materiality selection, using warm wood tones found in the brick walls and oak beams: Sossego’s Lupita and Beatriz upholstered armchairs, different from one another but speaking the same design language; blackened wood flooring; a sumptuous leather booth. Domingos Tortorà’s Frisos wall piece, a sculpture of cardboard and mud put out to dry in the Brazilian sun, its color connecting it to a symphony of other wood pieces playing against the black floor.
A custom bar with premium finishes and exceptional craftsmanship, not to mention high-tech features like a wi-fi charging countertop, took center stage, so designers introduced the Duda stool by Aristeu Pirès, all angles and curves and comfort. It mirrored the quality of the bar without stealing the spotlight from it.
A most excellent balancing act and juxtaposition of old-world space meets sleek new furniture and finishes. Tailored corners, joinery, and legs that come together in tabletops, are more than a tip of the hat to the architecture; they unify the structure of the space with its curation so well that the design team and the client both deserve to take a bow.