Inspiring Portugal: RAW

Spotlighting Portugal’s ‘new blood’ and the essential elements of creativity in Portuguese design.

In its second outing at London Design Fair, Inspiring Portugal will celebrate a new generation of Portuguese designers. Curated by Lisbon-based designer Marco Sousa Santos—a leading protagonist of contemporary Portuguese design—Inspiring Portugal spotlights the country’s ‘new blood’ in a stirring and fresh exhibition entitled ‘RAW’.

The Glass Cares collection from Off Portugal

The Glass Cares collection from Off Portugal

Combining a choice selection of rational and experimental design projects—both individual and group-based—RAW will demonstrate the breadth and diversity of a new generation of Portuguese designers. A common denominator amongst the designers is the focus on experimentation with materials and a tendency towards design that affords the primacy of matter over the idea. This approach reveals the beauty of unfinished work—that ‘raw’, essential and natural element. Moreover, this new generation of Portuguese designers value a slower, workshop-based approach to design, making use of traditional methods alongside new technologies. 

‘This exhibition reflects a return to the essential elements of creativity in the design of Portuguese products. Portugal has been fostering its rich and resilient manufacturing heritage, while simultaneously making use of its elementary, but experienced, Portuguese design industry. Innovative collaborations and projects have come about as a result.’ (Marco Sousa Santos, curator of Inspiring Portugal: RAW)

Designers at Inspiring Portugal: RAW

An initiative of the project Off Portugal (whose aim is to support young Portuguese designers), ‘Glass Cares’ is a showcase of ten experimental glass pieces made by ten independent designers. At a two-day workshop residency in Marinha Grande (a region known for its glass-blowing tradition), each designer worked with experienced local craftsmen to create a distinct glass piece. The result was a collection of unique glasswares, highly individual and unconventional in their execution. For example, Samuel Reis created his amber-coloured ‘Cerne’ vase using a tree trunk mould, while Diana Medina fashioned a vase around pine cones. And Vitor Agostinho employed an exploratory process that generates different shapes from a single mould, in order to produce a container with a multifaceted surface.

João Bruno Videira is a self-taught artisan and furniture designer. With a fresh approach to the use of woollen yarn, he set up João Bruno Design. Here, João creates exceptional objects, each one colourful and distinct. Launched in 2015, Mishmash is a smart, fun stationery brand with a minimalist aesthetic. Its original notebooks have a wonderfully subversive disposition. The ‘Holy Golden’ notebook was inspired by ‘a great precious stone that fell from the sky’. Making high-quality furniture, Lisbon-based furniture brand Porventura embraces procedural and technical joinery, with ergonomics and innovative combinations of materials. Owner and head of design Filipe Ventura derives inspiration from the various forms, concepts and aesthetics found in architecture. Both disconcerting and inviting, the compact Torta desk combines a strong, curious structure with a minimal design.

Sugo Cork Rugs

Sugo Cork Rugs

Created by designer Susana Godinho, Sugo Cork Rugs offers a unique collection of design-led, handwoven rugs made using cork combined with wool and cotton. UTIL is a home furniture and accessories brand, with products designed around Europe and made in Portugal. Working with up-and-coming young designers, everyday objects have a warm, social dimension. The Oyster stool is a versatile seat and side table with a clever T-shaped leg construction.

Dressing tables since 1911, Herdmar is a third-generation producer of cutlery. Based in Caldas das Taipas, Guimarães (in northern Portugal), this global brand makes an array of traditional and modern tableware pieces. In 2009, Riluc was conceived by designer and art director Toni Grilo. A French native, Toni relocated to Portugal where he helped transform a twenty-five-year-old family metalwork business into Riluc, an exciting new furniture brand. Toni’s Line chair is an elegant and curvy seat made in bright stainless steel or with a bright gold titanium coating. 

In 2014, designer Nuno Rodrigues created Stabörd as a means of expressing his personality and love of design. Nuno describes himself as ‘Portuguese by blood and Scandinavian in spirit’. Stabörd’s designs are imbued with personality—the Le Petit Chandelier has a modern-day sense of grandeur. At S. Bernado, handmade ceramics are decorative, noble and diverse in their arrangement. The Prima Donna collection enjoys a curvaceous, diva-like profile. 

Proudly Portuguese, AROUNDtheTREE is a brand whose young team believes in the values of Portuguese culture and traditions, diligently reinterpreting them in uniquely designed pieces. The remarkable ‘Portuguese Roots’ chair is a new version of a famous tubular steel chair designed by Gonçalo Rodrigues dos Santos in the post-war era. Portuguese Roots is made in wood and cork and designed by Alexandre Caldas. Rui Alves comes from a family of skilled craftsmen. Approaching design in a meticulous and practical manner, Rui’s well-designed objects are imbued with poise and personality.

To see the Inspiring Portugal pavilion at the London Design Fair, you can register to attend here: