Where are you from?
I was born in Recife, Brazil, but we moved to Miami when I was six.
Do you remember an early design influence?
I was infatuated with cars; I loved drawing them. I would piece together a Lamborghini’s rims with a McLaren fender and DeLorean windows. I was always sketching things out.
When did architecture enter the picture?
I discovered the Milwaukee Art Museum while in high school and thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen in my life. The architect, Santiago Calatrava, became my big inspiration. I began to look at all buildings differently. Buildings replaced cars for me.
So you studied architecture?
I went to Miami Dade College, then to Florida International University. I found I loved the research and case studies, but I hated the actual post-school architectural life. I saw my friends working on sprinkler plans and fire escapes. I didn’t want to do that.
Did you get some strong guidance?
One of my professors said, ‘You don’t have to be an architect to be a designer.’ That opened up a whole new reality for me. I wanted to start designing.
What got you to Coach?
I came to New York in 2010 to study exhibit design at FIT. But the economy was still hurting. In 2014, I was sitting on my couch, jobless, and got an email saying Coach was looking for someone to do 3-D modeling and production drawings. I thought, ‘Wait! Really? Coach?’ They were doing some strong rebranding.
A brand in transition. You must have liked that.
That’s what attracted me. I felt this transformation, collaborating with the likes of Disney and Keith Haring. The brand was becoming fun, youthful, shiny.
Not the traditional Coach.
No. Today, our ‘Coach girl’ is a little bit of everything – fun, sophisticated, classy, quirky. Also young. That’s how we came up with Rexy the dinosaur as the brand’s icon.
Is that a T-Rex? Or Barney?
A little of both. All forms, actually. In our Fifth Avenue store, we have a Rexy made out of Coach bags – a giant leather dinosaur with chrome-plated teeth and fingernails. We have her on everything: footwear, apparel, bags, phone cases, Apple Watch straps.
That must be satisfying.
I’m using every single piece of my skill set: storytelling, architecture, construction.
Yes. Making all of these props that can solidly stand up. The practical side of visual merchandising.
Do you recall your Brazilian heritage?
I’m kind of the worst Brazilian. I don’t watch soccer, I don’t dance, I don’t go to the beach, I don’t drink and I’ve never been to Rio. But I love my Brazilian heritage, the culture and music. It has become my lifetime objective to get to know where I’m from and take it more seriously. Go there and take photographs, be with my people.
Do you speak the language?
I do speak Portuguese. That’s how I communicated with my family. But every immigrant kid wants to speak English. Now, as an adult, I want to go immerse myself in my Brazilian roots.