(CNN)Few countries would be so bold as to commit to hosting a football World Cup and Olympic Games within the space of two years. But then few countries can claim the same head-on, no-holds-barred passion for life as Brazil.
The former Portuguese province's story is complex. Often violent, unequal and plagued by a sluggish economy, up to a few years ago, any international headlines relating to Brazil tended to focus on the Carnival or out-of-control drug-related violence within the country's notorious favelas. The enormous South American country -- the "sleeping giant" as it was monikered -- was underachieving.
But the world is now witnessing a seismic awakening. Brazil's thriving creative class is writing a different story -- and the global cultural stage is all the richer for it.
From Isay Weinfeld's much-lauded architecture to the internationally acclaimed work of theCampana Brothers (whose presence can be felt at every major design fair around the world), Brazil is rapidly moving beyond the old stereotypes.
As Brazilian writer Alcino Leite Neto puts it, in his introductory essay for Phaidon's encyclopaedic new hardback -- excerpts from which feature below -- celebrating the country's cultural scene, "in Brazil, the future has just begun."