You are genuinely a cosmopolitan; born in Portugal and lived in Spain and Italy for a few years, now living in Copenhagen and collaborating with people worldwide. Do you embrace the term cosmopolitan?
I have been calling myself a nomad, someone that settles for some time in one place to fulfil a need and moves on to the next location when time is right, but cosmopolitan is perhaps a more accurate term to define my lifestyle. Living in different countries and interacting with other ways of thinking and doing changed my perspective and position about the design discipline. It led me to a general impression that the design is strongest when in close dialogue with the industry.
While being a citizen of the world, much of your work takes inspiration from your Portuguese roots. What do those roots mean to you?
After living and working abroad for almost 14 years now, my homeland vision is getting more and more idealized. All the things I find unique about being Portuguese presents to me in an almost caricatural way. I’ve always been fascinated by craftsmanship, and the empiric knowledge passed on from generation to generation. I’m interested in applying this heritage to relevant products for today’s ways of living. Even if I tend to impregnate my work with elements from my cultural background, I am also very much open to what surrounds the people I meet along the way and me. A good example is my long term collaboration with Ryosuke Fukusada, a Japanese product designer I met while working at Patricia Urquiola studio in Milan. When designing at four hands, we engage with our differences and try to approach things differently.
Your collection for Frameworks Gallery, and also your work in general, are very colourful. What do solid and vivid colours mean to you?
Our perception of colour connects to light, and it’s also a very personal matter, which can affect one’s mood. In my work, colour and material selection is an integral part of each project, a tool to communicate a particular emotion or attitude. Since I moved to Copenhagen, I tend to use stronger colours to compensate for it due to the lack of light.
You work and live in and of the furniture and design industry. You also take time to reflect and raise critical questions about the industry in general and our consumption level. Will an increased awareness among consumers change our path, or are we just doomed?
In my practice, and when developing a new project, I often aim to highlight or work with a topic related to our times and affect our lives. Some projects end up being merely speculations about a hypothetical solution, and design is used as a vehicle of communication instead of a tool to deliver a finished product. This ‘Critical position’ stands for a nonconformist approach to the discipline, which often favours corporate growth instead of the final user’s interest. It will require an extra effort from political entities and corporations to redirect citizens’ consumption patterns into taking more responsible decisions, consequently adjusting to a new lifestyle. If economic interests are put aside and focus placed on implementing change today, we might be able to extend our collective welfare for generations to come.
You have a fondness for red clay. Is that founded in your Portuguese roots, and what does the red clay represent to you?
Red clay tableware is very much connected to Portugal’s gastronomic landscape and festivities. You can find it in the most typical restaurants called ‘Tasco’ and street markets across the country. It’s often seen as a less noble material, but to me, besides the immediate link to my homeland, it represents a simpler, more grounded way of living.
You have a solid graphic sense but have (as far as we know) not worked with artworks like this before. Any new learnings or reflections upon creating this collection?
In the past, I often created postcards or other graphical material to communicate a new product. Still, it is indeed the first time I explore the potentialities of a 2D medium on this scale. Graphic design allows for a very satisfying and unrestricted way of working compared to the multiple constraints involved in the three-dimensional physical object design. There is something reassuring about working on a more permanent format in a very digitalized world, which will hopefully hang on the wall for years, giving the viewer some food for thought.
And finally, tell us a little about the collection you have made?
For this first collection, I took a step back and looked at some of the projects I’ve been working on for the past years. I have approached this project as an opportunity to develop further and extend some of the concepts and subjects I’m interested in and explore their translation in another media.