Who is Marcio Kogan?
Marcio Kogan, film-maker and principle architect at Studio MK27, is known primarily for his quietly considered minimal houses, often built with stark concrete or white exterior renders balanced by warm, simple interior features. In a career spanning five decades he has received over 200 international awards and pioneered a unique studio set-up where his 20 strong team take equal part in every project.
Growing up in Sao Paulo in the 1950's with a modernist architect father, Kogan was clearly inspired by mid-century forms and few manage to incorporate the style so successfully in contemporary design. In some ways his buildings would not look out of place if built 60 years ago, yet still manage to capture the present day.
Kogan started his creative career in 1973, spending the next six years producing a series of short films with Isay Weinfeld, many of which were released to strong critical acclaim. Sao Paulo's cinematic landscape is well-suited to his film-making background and clean architectural style, and his balance of material, proportion and light is what makes him one of our favourite living architects.
His first foray into architecture was to design his own Sao Paulo office in 1977 (where the practice is still based) however it was the early 90’s when he truly became prolific in the field. Multiple high profile commissions followed over the next decade. In 2001, Kogan changed his studio’s name to MK27 and took on a more collaborative approach, hiring architects to work in almost communal style across a range of projects. Gamma Issa House (2002) was perhaps pivotal - bringing him wider international acclaim and cementing his position as a truly world class designer.
There is no doubt that Kogan’s work is beautiful, but we think there is a deeper meaning to the success of his aesthetic that is often found in the connection between designer and client. Kogan touched upon it when asked which project had given him the most satisfaction in a 2013 interview with Designboom:
“We have some projects that are very important but the answer is: it involves personal relationships. It is difficult every time. The importance of the client in defining the quality of project is very big… it’s in their hands. I like this, I don’t want to just to work with a white paper, a blank canvas where I can do what I want, no restrictions, no input. In the office we do 40-50% private houses, working on residential projects is very connected to the clients.”
We agree with this sentiment and think that it can be seen running through much of the studio’s work. Considering the end user, and getting their input or feedback, is hugely valuable and something that Instrmnt try to consider when building and releasing products. It makes sense: who’s opinion is going to be more valuable that the person who will be using the building, product, or experience you create?
Which houses has Marcio Kogan has designed?
Where to start. Kogan has an extensive portfolio from his illustrious career. He is prolific in an extremely measured way - every project is executed thoughtfully and carefully. You can see and read about the full collection of houses and public buildings on his website, or details on a few of the more popular one via Dezeen or Arch Daily.
Special mentions: Redux House (delicate), Paratay House (idyllic), Toblerone House (slick), Jungle House (hidden).
In our opinion though, his greatest piece of work is Planar House, completed in early 2018 on the outskirts of São Paulo. Its sleek, grass covered concrete slab roof shades a beautifully proportioned space for living, dining and sleeping with the perfect balance of privacy and interaction. The terracotta back wall - comprised of alternating solids and voids, and one of a rare few curved forms in all of Kogan’s body of work - guides residents and visitors through the houses’ length to a main congregational area at the far end of the building. We urge to to look at the photographs of course, but most importantly, also the plan and elevational drawings to fully appreciate the project. We don’t think it is hyperbole to say that Planar House is perhaps one of the finest examples of modern architecture in the past two decades. Superb work.
So you want to live in a Marcio Kogan designed house?
They don’t go up for sale very often, but they have in the past (https://www.christiesrealestate.com/eng/sales/detail/170-l-82199-1508101048147574/contemporary-retreat-designed-by-marcio-kogan-ilhabela-sp).
and 4567 Pine Tree Drive on Miami Beach was listed for $30M in 2017, so best to start saving. (https://miami.curbed.com/2017/5/4/15548866/miami-beach-contemporary-pine-tree)
If you plan instead to build your own dream house and are a fan of Kogan’s style then technically there is nothing to stop you get in contact with his studio.. however the likelihood of being able to commission him as lead architect on your project is perhaps low. Kogan’s profile has been that of a ‘Starchitect’ for many years now - not quite at the level fellow minimalists Renzo Piano, David Chipperfield or Peter Zumthor, but not too far off - and we would assume that the number of potential enquires he receives far exceeds his capacity. It’s a pick and choose game.
If you live in the United Kingdom, you are unfortunately even less likely to be able to acquire his services: he’s never built here (nor in Africa, and only a few times in North America and Asia). There may of course be a shred of hope should you be a South American multi-millionaire who has recently acquired a beautiful rural plot. If so, give MK27 a call. Give us a call too, actually.
For the rest of us, a more accessible suggestion: study his team’s interior design and finishing. If you can’t have the exterior or the view, this is the next best thing. Like most minimal architectural projects, finish and furnishings can make or break a project and Kogan’s houses are always perfectly executed in this regard. There is no doubt MK27 either have in-house interior designers or employ a regular consultant, however Kogan or the lead architect will have final say over a lot of internal specifications.
To achieve a similar aesthetic in your own house, look to textural, earthy colours. Often deep moody shades of terracotta, teal, dark grey or brown are used to offset the stark white or concrete external renders that Kogan is famous for. Texture in paint is becoming increasingly popular: Clayworks were responsible for the beautiful paintwork in one of our favourite local architecture projects called Porteous Studio in Edinburgh, by Izat Arundell. Similarly Farrow and Ball have now added a lime wash paint to their ‘Specialist Finishes’ section which gives a flat chalk effect unlike anything else you will have seen.
Wood is used extensively in Kogan’s projects too - often indigenous to the local area of the building in question and both in terms of furnishing and interior walls or partitions. It is nearly always species’ of darker colours: think teak, cedar, walnut, or mahogany.
Furniture is - perhaps unsurprisingly - a key element in general. The relaxed, sometimes rustic and often vintage furniture that you see in many of MK27’s finished houses is an indictment to the owners own style, and perhaps says a lot about why Kogan has chosen to work with them. You will often see vintage pieces from the likes of Jean Prouvé, Hugo Franca, Hans Wegner, Franco Albini, or Gio Ponti in finished houses. If acquiring a chair or desk by one of these masters is a little out of reach, try Frama in Copenhagen, or some of Crosby Studios more decorative pieces. Likewise, you can never go wrong with classic Eames pieces from the Vitra collection. In terms of soft furnishings, subtly textured/patterned throws, cushions, and heavy fabrics work best. Some of our favourite fabric suppliers are Kvadrat, Svensson, and Bute. At the ready-to-use end of the spectrum, rugs and cushions from Ferm Living are worth taking a look at.
An Inspiration to Instrmnt watches.
Marcio Kogan shares a similar ethos and many values that we at Instrmnt have built our company on, both in a philosophical sense and in plain visual terms. We have studied and followed his work since long before launching our design studio, and he has inspired us to value simplicity, sustainability and quality from the early days. These are themes that we have made sure run through each of the products we create and projects we collaborate on.
We hope you have enjoyed our short profile about him and his wider team of architects at MK27 and suggest you keep on eye out for further projects from the studio. They are truly leading by example in the world of considered minimal design.
Check out our range of minimalist watches here.