Havaianas Sandals, created in 1962, drew their inspiration from the
“zori”, traditional Japanese slippers made of rice straw. A product of
extremely low cost, for many years they were just rubber flip-flops, a
long way from the fashion icon they are today.
To design a store
at one of the world's most expensive addresses (Rua Oscar Freire, in
São Paulo) to sell products that cost from € 2.30 to € 10.00 – and not
more than that – was, at one time, the excitement and the joy of the
work. This is Havaianas' first store in Brazil.
The greatest challenge for architect Isay Weinfeld and his team was to cast onto the architecture the climate the
brand inspires: freshness, casualness, comfort, ease, well-being,
Brazilianness. It seems though that he achieved more than this: the store was awarded 1st prize in the Shopping category at the World Architecture Festival Awards in Barcelona this year.
The shop has a very informal atmosphere and the
outcome is nearly a square – a space fully opened onto the street,
practically an extension of the sidewalk, without doors or window
displays, with lush greenery and intense natural lighting, only covered
by a metal grid alternating glass/wooden closures and openings for
ventilation and irrigation.
The building develops in descending
levels. At street level, just a small lounge area, a mezzanine
overlooking the whole store; the store per se, one level below,
occupies an ample clear span featuring double-height ceilings, marked
by independent elements: a street market stand reminds of the origin of
the sandals, initially sold at the city's free markets.
displays the " export" models, so far unseen in Brazil; a transparent
cylinder features the so-called "new products" (bags, socks, towels,
etc.); and a high-tech cube tells the story of Havaianas. Amidst all
that, a lowered area for customization services and featuring displays
for the children's product line. At the back of the store, on a
half-raised level, there is a small garden for exclusive use by staff;
the underground houses offices and storage areas.