While walking in the fashionable high street of Ipanema, a block or two away from the beach, I stumbled upon a shop with an eye-catching, funky and very colourful shop front. Going inside, you see that the description is also 100% applicable to the products inside.
Gilson Martins is a local designer that uses recycled vinyl to make bags, purses and accessories. He then uses the famous Rio landmarks as motif on his products, such as Christ the Redeemer, the lovely Sugarloaf Mountain, the Lapa arches and Copacabana’s iconic sidewalk, all in bright rainbow colours. He was also the first designer to use the Brazilian flag in fashion.
His bags have been on display at the Louvre and Milan Design Week and are sold at the MoMA store in NY – probably the ultimate indication that his contemporary designs are pretty revolutionary.
What I love about it is that the bags made me smile. Yes, I know it is only a bag with a little picture, but somehow the sense of humour displayed in these designs made me linger a bit longer in the shop. Plus, it is probably the most fun and practical souvenir that you can take home from your visit to Rio de Janeiro – as their slogan says: “Take Brazil with you”. Clever!