I once worked in New York City's Rockefeller Center, where I spent many happy lunch hours studying its streamlined Art Deco architecture. I discovered sculpted panels by artists ranging from Gaston Lachaise to Isamu Noguchi and was amazed at the way the buildings used new materials like Bakelite and aluminum. Art Deco, I learned, was the first truly international style of interior design, and it swept through fashionable rooms from Paris to Tokyo from the mid-1920s to the 1940s.
Those decades coincided with Argentina's golden age. Such vast quantities of beef and grain were shipped from the port of Buenos Aires that money flowed in like the tide. Famous architects and designers, including Le Corbusier and Jean-Michel Frank, worked there. And affluent porteños, as residents of the city are called, brought roomfuls of fashionable furniture home from Europe. So when a decorator friend returned from South America with news that Buenos Aires is a great place to find Art Deco furniture at bargain pricesa result of the country's 2001 financial crisisI decided to see for myself.
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Now undergoing a post-crash renaissance, but still full of excellent bargains, the Argentinean capital is attracting ambitious, creative people like Emmanuel Burgio, a young Frenchman who was once a banker at Credit Suisse First Boston in Manhattan. In 2002 Burgio launched Blue Parallel, which tailors itineraries to South America's most exotic locales for individual clients. He fell in love with Buenos Aires during his own travels and decided to base his company there. (Blue Parallel also has an office in Potomac, Maryland.)