Perfect strangers in the beginning, the two met at an exhibition in Brussels and immediately realized they were on the same wavelength. Both have always been keen sportsmen, as well as music lovers and lifelong admirers of art, so the two clicked right away.
Moldeva, tired of the aloof and frenetic Paris, quit the city on a whim and left his professional stability behind to head for Brazil, where he bought his first plot of land in Atins, on Brazil’s northeastern coast. Spurred on by their shared love of kitesurfing and discovery, the pair settled in their new country with no other plan than to relish their newfound freedom.
Following nothing but “gut feelings,” the couple turned that plot of land into La Ferme de Georges, a cluster of luxurious villas on the edge of Brazil’s Lençóis Maranhenses National Park. “People used to tell me that I was crazy to start a hospitality project,” explains Moldeva. “So what did I do? I opened a second one!” This time, he and Verwilghen chose Rio de Janeiro’s lush Santa Teresa neighborhood—between the city’s center and the golden beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema—as their canvas upon which to create Chez Georges, a private villa and recording studio perched atop a verdant hill.
In both of their properties, Moldeva and Verwilghen took great care to oversee each detail. They have always had a respect for quality craftsmanship, so they saw this as their chance to exhibit some of their favorite design pieces and artworks—from Italian Murano opalines to a limited edition Marc Jacobs surfboard and unique local Brazilian crafts.
Many of the design and furniture pieces are mementos of the couple’s travels together.
The design is in harmony with the couple’s overall philosophy of hospitality: their goal is to eschew the impersonal nature of big hotel chains and “bring guests to a totally disconnected tête-à-tête with nature,” according to Verwilghen. “At La Ferme de Georges, guests live for the moment and leave full of positive energy, and at Chez Georges, they experience Rio’s natural side.”
Moldeva admits success did not come without struggles, and Verwilghen confesses that it was challenging to find a balance between the professional and the private. “Pierre and I are very different, but also complementary. When working in front of customers, we find our rhythm.” Verwilghen's easy-going attitude soothes Moldeva's anxiety, while Moldeva helps Verwilghen to put his heart and soul into his work. “Our differences create a fantastic alchemy,” they explain. In addition, they both learned to surround themselves with the right people who, in turn, played a key role in realizing the couple’s vision. “Sometimes, serendipity triumphs and everything just comes together. It’s all about the right people at the right time in the right place,” Moldeva enthuses.
Concerning the future, the couple remain open to discovering the rest of the world. “This is the real luxury nowadays, not having any plans and accepting the risks,” says Moldeva. “It’s all about telling yourself ‘carpe diem’ every morning!”