Branding the Crisis: House of All
São Paulo is the wealthiest city in Brazil and studies project it will be among the ten richest in the world by 2025. The high influx of money and professionals means the capital follows international patterns of consumption and behaviours more actively than any other Brazilian city; in other words, paulistanos are directly impacted by innovations and commercial trends taking place across the globe while also dictating some trends to the rest of the country and continent. The presence of the creative industries is, therefore, strong, as well as new cultural economic phenomena, such as hipster capitalism and the craft economy.
While the crisis in Brazil has far deeper roots than the one that swept the advanced economies of the Global North from 2008 onwards, Brazilian people and São Paulo residents, in particular, surely felt the effects of the neoliberal austerity and the subsequent compensatory culture that emerged in response to it. Aligned to the current tendency of glamorising precarious conditions of living and working, the project House of All, in the middle-class neighbourhood of Pinheiros, in São Paulo, symbolises the new mentality that permeates the social circles of young creative individuals.
As posted on the Exame magazine website in a piece called “Reinvention and surviving the crisis”, Wolf Menke, the project creator, explains how he quit his job in the advertising industry and took advantage of the economic boom brought about by the World Cup and Olympic Games, amongst other reasons, to invest in co-working spaces. A few years later, when the tide turned dramatically, and in reaction to a moment of increasing political and economic turmoil, he decided to expand the business and make the most out of the sharing economy concept.
The venture expanded and today encompasses four different “houses”. Apart from the classic co-working space (House of Work), the initiative also offers the House of Bubble, a laundry services with a bar where you can wash your clothes while having a drink; House of Food, a sharing kitchen to be rented daily to young chefs, curated by the House’s managers, can experiment with their recipes; and House of Learning, a space dedicated to the provision of courses and seminars. In one of the floors, there is also what they call “the Netflix of clothes”, a fashion lab slash rental service in which wardrobes can be shared. Last but not least, the House of All includes a hot tub for participants to enjoy, either having meetings or just relaxing. Among the next plans, the creator intends to expand the project to the favelas, where local community agents could be recruited to run the businesses.
What does this case tell us about the way millennials are dealing with times of uncertainty? The answer may rely on an anecdote from a few years back. In 2016, when the vice-president Michel Temer took over after the president Dilma Rousseff had been impeached, one of his speeches went viral and was soon spread out by an entrepreneur in billboards across the country. The famous line said: “Don’t think about the crisis. Work!”. Rather than a mere encouragement in favour of individual action, the statement actually gives a hint of the lack of solid government proposals and actual solutions in the aftermath of Brazil’s worst recession.