Brazil has a new gold rush – at a place meant to make you smile

Brasilia – The world’s longest gold rush took place in what is now Minas Gerais, a Brazilian province whose present-day name literally means ‘General Mines.’ Today, another province is giving a run for their metal: in the country’s capital, it's safe to say a dentist’s clinic has gone all Au-t.

Aptly called L’Or, the dental dispensary afforded Um a Um Arquitetura a chance to explore what luxury meant to them. ‘We reinterpreted this concept as the opportunity to use one’s busy time for art contemplation, socialization and other matters that have turned into luxuries in our everyday life,’ said architect Eduardo Sáinz. So, they decided to turn one of everyday life’s most dull errands – the dentist’s appointment – into a moment of visual respite.

This is a design choice we’ve seen before from the likes of Studio Karhard and Masquespacio – we’re beginning to think the dentist’s office is the new café in terms of casual Instagrammability. But instead of the maximalist hue-and-saturation approach in those projects, Um a Um went for a minimalist spin on traditional elegance. ‘That’s because the meaning of beauty is relative, and to us beauty is related to the quality of a material – thus, gold,’ Um a Um’s Lilian Glayna said. That explains the strategic use of metal and concrete in the reception lounge and the small lavatory.

But luxury turns into a different matter once patients reach the consultation room: those who sit on the dentist chair are treated to a privileged view of the Brasilia skyline, to admire the work of Niemeyer and Costa. Inside, they are also greeted by the work of the country’s furniture design greats, such as Paulo Mendes da Rocha, as well as contemporary talents such as Jader Almeida, Guilherme Wentz and Estúdio Ninho. In other words: visitors might find themselves saying ‘Aaaaaah’ even before taking a seat under the medical lamp.

The takeaway: Maurizio Cattelan and Guggenheim curator Nancy Spector may have a certain commander-in-chief’s vulgar penchant for the metal as an interior-décor element, but gold can still convey elegant and thoughtful warmth, even in high quantities, if used properly.

 

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