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There is a strong Italian influence in your home and in your furniture line as well. Why is that?
First, my family is actually Italian from Bologna. I am a fourth-generation Brazilian. Brazil is a lot like America: nobody is Brazilian and people come from everywhere else. My family is like that, too. We have this Italian thing in our blood about design, fashion and style. I think its something youre born with. My father and my whole family, we are blessed with this. We may not be as bright as financiers, were not bankers or money managers. Our thing is selling style and building relationships.
At what point did design enter your life?
It was the first time I went to Europe that design really hit me. I was 14 and I was backpacking with some friends for two months. I remember that my vision of the cities was different from that of my friends. They were looking for bars and parties. I was looking for architecture.
Tell me about the first time you saw your Miami house.
It was six in the morning and I was biking through this neighborhood. Id been looking for a home to buy for six months. And then I saw this one, the only contemporary looking one in the area. It was built in 1961. You could see through the front to the back, and could see that every room faced a beautiful lake and a huge ficus tree. That tree is about 150 years old! Then I saw a guy come out and put a For Sale sign in front. I thought: This is it.
What is your favorite spot in the house?
The master bedroom. It has an incredible view of the lake and that ficus tree. I like to sit right on the bed and look out. Its just beautiful.
White seems to be the color that permeates through both your home and your store. Why does white speak to you?
I love white. White is peaceful. I think everybody has stress and problems. And their home has to be their escape from all the stress. It should be your cocoon of happiness and inspiration. Theres no better color for this than white. Most important, it matches with anything. It matches with the Florida sunshine. It matches with the blue Florida waters.
Tell me about the wall of art in your living room.
That wall is a collection of the most important classic Brazilian painters. Unfortunately, I cannot afford the original oils but I have a drawing collection from them. Imagine the most important American painters. I have the Brazilian version of them on my walls. Its a collection that always reminds me of my roots in Brazil.
And yet, there is a very casual feel in the house. It feels real and lived-in. As a dad with a family, was that important for you?
Yes, this is a family house. Close to schools, on a lake. Its the house where we bring friends. I would never bring my clients or business here. We made it so that it would be useful, family-oriented.
What is the one object in your home you will never get rid of, and why?
I have two pieces: an 18th century console made of driftwood. Its Portuguese and it comes from a Brazilian farm, where we bought it from an art dealer. It has come with my wife and I to all the homes weve ever moved into, and it always will. I dont know exactly why other than its unique and irreplaceable. The other is an art piece by Pedro Américo, one of Brazils most important painters. Hes the painter who created a masterpiece called Independence or Death, showing the moment Brazil was declared independent from Portugal, which is at the art museum of Sao Paulo today. Its special not only because of this, but because its the only material gift my father ever gave me. He gave it to me as a wedding gift. It will always be with me.
You fathers figure looms largely in your life even today. What is the single most important lesson he taught you?
The importance of your word. He told me, Paulo, the only thing you have in your life is your word. Your word will make you successful or it will make you a failure. So make sure that when you say you are going to do something...you do it. And thats how I treat my life, my business, our customers even if it costs me money. Ive been known to put a couch on an overnight cargo plane at my own expense in order to make a delivery on time because I promised itand its my word.