Maison & Objet 2019 The Talks programme has been quite inspiring this year, where topics from French identity to Chinese and Portuguese design have been discussed. We had the immense pleasure to be live at Maison & Objet 2019 Paris’ latest conference, Portugal, Eldorado archi, design, craft? A conference designated to discuss why Portugal has played such an important role in the development of these industries. In this article, you’ll be able to discover what three of the major design entities in Portugal had to say, including designer of Astolfi Studio, Joana Astolfi, Artur Miranda and Jacques Bec, interior architects of Oitoemponto and Amândio Pereira from Covet Foundation for Design & Craftsmanship. The conference was moderated by the French journalist, Guy-Claude Agboton.
When several European designers moved to Portugal, the media asked them why. Two answers come back; the existence of craftsmanship skills and a certain state of mind with the human at the centre. Portugal’s commitment to elevating design and craftsmanship has been truly impressive. While history has played a major part in the development of the arts sector in Portugal, especially during the Discoveries period, many Portuguese creators have come to pave towards a brighter future. They pay tremendous attention to tradition while also introducing contemporary details to their productions, providing a fresher flair to craftsmanship.
One of the first topics of discussion during this conference of Maison & Objet 2019 was the importance of marble in Portuguese production. This noble material can be seen pretty much everywhere in the country, from houses to monuments and it is very much deep-rooted in Portuguese culture and tradition. The leading men of Oitoemponto even mentioned that this material is actually a part of the country’s DNA. There are numerous types of marble, including, for example, the Estremoz marble which was inspired by the eponymous region of Evóra. Artur Miranda and Jacques Bec also talked about how crucial it is to put craftsmanship in the international panorama and come up with original and creative ways to develop it, combining tradition and high-quality.
Deeply connected with the Portuguese legacy of fine craftsmanship, Amândio Pereira further emphasised on the significance of using luxury and natural materials in Portuguese productions, such as marble, cork and world. The Portuguese has come up with new ways to reinvent these materials while keeping their traditional characteristics, giving origin to highly creative works of design. Filigree was one of the main techniques highlighted at the conference. Boca do Lobo, one of the brand’s from Pereira’s Covet Group, has crafted this art form to new heights by producing pieces, such as the Filigree mirror that pay homage to the past and artistic value of Portugal and its craftsmen.
Furthermore, the founder of Covet Foundation also spoke about how one can express themselves through craftsmanship. He also said that craftsmen know the material better than designers and there’s always space to create a relationship because these creators truly do hold a lot of knowledge. Every production in Portugal is mostly handmade in a sort of modern way and, over the years, there has been a need to challenge artists to reinvent themselves, while never letting go of what the past has offered us.
The Know how is an extremely important factor as Joana Astolfi adds that Portugal is one of the leading countries when it comes to high-quality craftsmanship at a good price. This manufacturing process is passed on from generation to generation and a lot of people from the new generation are getting curious and more passionate about craftsmanship and its overall beauty.
Joana Astolfi always creates a project taking into consideration a story, concepts with a narrative, that reflect not only the history of the place itself but also the people, creating the full experience. The design visuals of the architect and designer are often strong and she always offers a personalised service. Her projects are often translated into balanced spaces where neutrality, warm lighting and exquisite materials come together to create the one essence of the interior.
Moreover, Oitoemponto also referred that when craftsmanship it is concerned, it is all a question of information and proportion, whether we are talking about tastes, colours or styles. A constant throughout this conference that all entities involved agreed is that one simply cannot project one’s near future without reinterpreting the past at Maison & Objet 2019.