One enters Casa de Vidro from below, by climbing a twisting staircase of concrete slabs. The front door gives way to the main room, an open space where the couple would host the city’s artists, politicians, and intellectuals. The house was “a center of the intelligentsia,” says Carmona Tozzi.
In that first room, one begins to understand the impressive extent to which Bo Bardi designed everything—from the seamless way the windows slide open, to sleek black doorknobs shaped like small animal horns. Each object and fixture (even kitchen utensils) was the result of her decisions and creativity.
The entire house, Carmona Tozzi says, is exemplary of Bo Bardi’s inventive use of materials. “Everything was in vogue at the time, but she used it in a different way,” she says, gesturing to the pale blue stone tiles that cover the main room’s floor. In 1950s Brazil, this type of tile was commonly used on the facades of buildings, but to install them on the floor, as Bo Bardi did, was unprecedented. Another stark departure from the design of the times was the use of natural light and lamps in place of overhead lighting. “This was completely unimaginable at the time,” Carmona Tozzi adds.
The main space is almost entirely enclosed by windows, giving visitors the feeling of being inside an ultramodern treehouse. The effect is only strengthened by a glassed-in, interior courtyard where a large tree grows. Beyond this, a wall hung with paintings gives way to the kitchen and, to the right, a hallway that leads to a bedroom and two bathrooms.
Each of the rooms is populated by an eclectic mix of furniture and art—much of the wall space is occupied by the collection of Italian
art that the couple brought over from Italy. The house commingles some of Bo Bardi’s most iconic furniture—like a set of four Bola
chairs, marked by distinct corset-like laces that join soft leather at the back—though also includes works that were specially made for the space, like a chair with a pale blue frame that matches the floor tiles.