Garrett Leight's Design & Development Specialist Juliana Russo

Meet Juliana Russo

What part of Brazil did you grow up in? What inspired you move to Los Angeles?

I am a Carioca, born and raised in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I came to LA in 2016 to study and have an experience abroad. I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle a freezing winter or live in a place too far away from the ocean, so LA seemed to be perfect to me. I’m really glad I made the decision to move to this city!

Do you have a favorite memory growing up in Brazil?

Most of my best memories in Brazil are related to the beach and the ocean. Like when I used to play in the waves for the whole day with my siblings and cousins as a kid, or the endless conversations I had with my friends on the Ipanema beach as a teenager, or when I used to travel to remote beaches in Rio and spend a week or two camping in the paradise.

Juliana swimming at a beach in Rio The beach in Rio

What do you miss most about Brazil?

The people! I miss my family and friends every day, but I also miss the Brazilian people in general. Brazilians are so friendly and caring with each other, always ready to help and always ready to have a good time together.

Do you have any favorite local spots in Brazil?

When I’m in Rio and I want to have amazing seafood, I go to the restaurant Tia Penha, a family-run hidden gem in the middle of the Guaratiba Biological Reserve. When I want to relax, I go to the São Conrado beach to drink some coconut water and watch the hang gliders landing on the sand. To have fun, I go and have a beer with my friends and walk around the streets of Lapa or Downtown Rio until we find a place with good music to listen and dance to.

Tia Penha Seafood dish The streets of Lapa

Which Brazilian designers or artists inspire you?

It is impossible to walk around Rio without being inspired by the beautiful curves and shapes of the landscape architect Burle Marx (@institutoburlemarx). I also love the work of the modernist architect Lina Bo Bardi (@acervolinabobardi) seen all around the city of São Paulo, and the immersive installations of the contemporary artist Ernesto Neto (@ernestonetoart). Recently I found the profile of the accessories designer Lane Marinho (@lanemarinho) on Instagram and I fell in love with the beauty and sensibility of her work. Her shoes are a piece of art.

Contemporary artist Ernesto Neto Landscape architect Burle Marx

Where do you go in LA when you're craving Brazilian food or feeling homesick?

Two things take me right back to Brazil: food and music. When I’m feeling homesick, I prepare a big pot of Feijoada (a traditional Brazilian dish made with black beans) and I play Caetano Veloso, Arlindo Cruz, or Rita Lee very loud on the speakers. For the rest of the day, I dance in the living room while waiting for the beans to be ready. That makes me feel close to Brazil again.

Juliana preparing Feijoada in her kitchen Brazilian dish Feijoada

Are there any similarities between California/LA and Brazil/Rio?

If you want to spend a beautiful day by the beach, or enjoy the sunny weather barbecuing with your friends, or just take a bike ride next to the ocean enjoying the breeze, you can do that in Rio or LA. The solar energy in these cities is magical and I’m happy I can call both places home!

Check out Juliana's favorite Feijoada recipe below.

1 pound of dried black beans
2 smoked sausages
1 pound of Brazilian dried meat
1 pound of salted pork ribs
1 pound of salted pork loin
1 large onion
3 cloves of garlic
Black pepper
Coriander (chopped)
Parsley (chopped)

1. Soak the black beans for at least 12 hours. Boil the pork ribs, Brazilian dried meat and pork loin twice to desalt them. In the pressure cooker, place the onion and smoked sausages, so that the onion browns with the oil released by the sausages. Once cooked, add the salted meats. Add the garlic and sauté everything until the meat browns. Include washed beans and a dash of black pepper.
2. Fill the pan with water until the contents are covered, close the lid and let it cook for 30 minutes.
3. When the beans are cooked, add parsley and cilantro to the pan. If necessary, add more salt.
4. Serve it with white rice, sautéed kale and slices of orange.

Juliana snorkeling in Rio