It is perhaps obligatory to talk in superlatives about the palpable energy you find everywhere in São Paulo. The scintillating rhythm and enthusiasm of the Brazilians, the harsh yet attractive contrast between rich and poor, beautiful and ugly, fair and unfair. But it’s all there, and you can’t help but be compelled by it all after spending some time with the residents of the city.

By Richard van der Laken

The creative scene here is perhaps even more vibrant than I noted in my previous letter. Just take a look at Ideafixa, an online magazine with over two million (!!!) visitors a month (!!!). Ideafixa is an initiative from a new generation of Brazilians, working together as a casual association of designers, artists, new-media specialists, programmers and so on. In addition to their online magazine they develop events, courses and exhibitions, and sustain a community that should not be underestimated.

Or take Bebel Abreu, a force of Brazilian nature. Under the name Mandacaru, Bebel produces and organises events in the creative sector, with a focus on graphic design, and now she’s also publishing her own erotic books under the name Bebel Books. Just try doing that in the Netherlands.

This is precisely the scintillating rhythm and enthusiasm I was referring to. And yes, there is another side to São Paulo, one teeming with disadvantaged people who don’t speak English and who missed the boat a long time ago.

I am totally convinced that the power of imagination, and the changes that creativity can set in motion, will put São Paulo on the map. And can What Design Can Do contribute to that effort? I believe it can. As an international platform we can bring people together, share ideas and work for a better future. I see a love affair emerging.

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