Rio de Janeiro – It would be hard to pin down Oficina Itsu’s core product. The up-and-coming studio does everything from wooden furniture to skateboards, from rucksacks to t-shirts, produced in small, carefully crafted runs for a young, urban audience. This came easy, as most of their business took place online and they weren’t shackled by any retail display limitations. That changed once they decided to get physical and open their first stores.
The duo found a spot in Barra Shopping, one of the most popular malls in carioca territory. That popularity, though, came at a price: Itsu had 90 days to revamp, outfit and open the space, or they’d have to pay a daily fine for each day they went over the agreed opening date. They ran into a wall that many beginners are faced with: How could they honour the creative spirit of their fledgling company when time was not on their side?
Given these limitations, the designers started searching for a like-minded partner. ‘We were looking for studios with a similar profile: someone with a strong aesthetic identity who valued the creative process, the architectural space, with no ready-made formulas but instead willing to walk down a unique path,’ explained Daniel Olej, one of Itsu’s co-founders.
And in Brazil, few architecture studios feed on subverting expectations as much as Terra e Tuma, the São Paulo-based studio that, in 2015, famously provided architectural dignity to a maid’s house. Coincidentally, they also needed to be speedy with that project, as the client’s original house was on the verge of collapse. With Oficina Itsu’s Barra location, the architectural firm saw an opportunity to leave their mark. ‘For us, the Terra e Tuma design signature is an innovative solution with a good use of resources and materials, and that fit perfectly with Itsu’s beliefs,’ stated Bárbara Fernandes and Danilo Terra, part of the architecture team.