After a sumptuous first day, the second day of Luxury Design & Craftsmanship Summit began with a blast. The luxurious panel, composed by Serena Confalonieri and Francesca Merciani, from Dioppa Firma, fashion designers Storytailors, Alda Tomas, a Designer from Vista Alegre and Toni Grilo, a product designer. The panel, moderated by Essencial Lisboa’s magazine editor and open media director, Fernando Caetano. The panel’s goal is rather simple: to show everyone in the audience that the future of luxury design lies in the hands of craftsmen and women.
Serena Confalonieri, alongside Francesca Merciani, opened the talks by presenting the honorable organization they’re representing: Doppia Firma. Presented by the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship, Doppia Firma is a project by Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’arte with Living Corriere della Sera, that provides a platform for a vibrant dialogue between the craftsperson and designer to develop new artworks that combine the finest métiers d’art expertise and contemporary design culture.
Every that’s connected with the project is paired with a rather talented craftsperson, so they can learn with one another. Gathering the best of both worlds, Doppia Firma aims to elevate the role of craftsmanship in contemporary design. During the month of September, in Venice, you can see first-handed the beautiful results of the project, at Homo Faber.
João Branco and Luis Sanchez created Storytailors in 2001 after finishing their Fashion Design studies at the Architecture College of Lisbon’s Technical University. They met during 1996 while attending the same classes; during the course, they realized that their aesthetic universes had a lot in common and that their ideas and opinions about fashion were complementary. They joined forces, matured ideas and decided to create a project with a name-concept that would reflect internationally their way of seeing and working fashion. Passion for History, fables, and stories along with their fascination with garment construction, tailoring and fashion gathered two words into one, and this story and tailors became Storytailors.
From their researches and inspirations, they craft stories for the future in a liberating way, revealing them as chapters in every collection. The metaphorical language implicit in each garment is their way of communicating. Their work mixes History, contemporaneity, and future in timeless design. Each Storytailors garment survives the season in which it was designed and can be reproduced at any time, on demand or in special editions. The young designers took us on a ride through their brand’s path, showing the importance of the concept and high-end execution to achieve the design they thought of.
”what we look for in our work is to be able to finnancially support our work experiments, so we can always try new materials and techniques. That’s what drives us.”
Alda Tomás, Vista Alegre’s designer, showed us what the brand’s work is about. from the finest china to crystals and glass. Founded in 1824, the Vista Alegre Porcelain Factory was the first industrial unit dedicated to producing porcelain in Portugal. The persistence of its founder, José Ferreira Pinto Basto, was instrumental to the launch and success of this daring enterprise.
A landowner, audacious merchant and distinguished figure in Portuguese society at the time, José Ferreira Pinto Basto wisely adopted the liberal ideas of the 19th century, having become “the first example of free initiative” in Portugal. ”It’s Incredibly difficult to design for Vista Alegre”, she said. The brand has its own DNA, with German and Italian influences, all merging into unique and timeless designs. Alda took the opportunity to introduce one of the brands most prominent designers: Evelyn Tannus. The young Brazilian designer explained to s the delicate process of designing a Vista Alegre piece, alongside the young, international design team at the brand’s core.
Designer and Art Director, Toni Grilo was born in France in 1979. Graduate by the École Boulle in Paris in 2001, he immediately goes to Lisbon, continuing to develop projects in France. At the end of Europe, finding its roots, he discovers a rich industrial and craft country and is obsessed by the beauty of technical processes and materials. After various collaborations, he decides to stay permanently in Portugal: he founds in 2005 a first agency, Objection with the designer Elder Monteiro, but in 2008 he opens his own studio, creating products, furniture, and scenography.
Toni not only sees himself as a designer but as a maker as well. ”I know how to sculpt a chair,” he said, ”I learned it during my training, and I never forgot it”. For him, crafting the piece is as important as designing it, if not more. He still has welding scars in his legs from the first time he designed for Christofle. He not only designed the piece, he built it himself. Proving once more the value of the craftspeople know-how in today«s luxury design business.
”Going to the factories, getting my hands dirty, that’s what I love the most”
As we dive deeper onto day 2 of the Luxury Design and Craftsmanship Summit 2018, the time has arrived to get in touch with the stories behind branding. We all know the concept, but can we actually grasp it? The panel, moderated by Mónica Seabra-Mendes, which is the head of the Luxury Management Program at the Lisbon Catholic University, is composed by Carlos Santos, head of Carlos Santos Shoes, Jorge Martins, from RomBoats, Marco Costa, Boca do Lobo’s Creative Director and CEO and Carla Graça, Marketing Manager at Vista Alegre.
The story of Carlos Santos Shoes starts the same as those of many other giants of international fashion. Created by Carlos Santos, it grew with him, fueled by the ambition of a young boy who took his first steps in business when he was only 14. With over 70 years of history, Carlos Santos Shoes is one of the greatest brands of male luxury footwear. Made in Portugal, the birth country of the brand and its founder, Carlos Santos Shoes exports the bulk of its products and is renowned all over the world.
” I was a mere employee at the beginning until I started to acquire the company’s shares” he stated. Carlos Santos. The company had many names throughout the time, until 12 ago, where Carlos achieve his longtime goal: running the company and stamping his name on it. Carlos made a very important point, which is the much-deserved recognition of the Portuguese design. ”If Carlos Santos Shoes was stamped with ‘Made in England‘ we would be at the top of every chart” de designer stated. Even though the Portuguese Design is starting to get acknowledged, there’s a long path yet to walk.
Nowadays, Vista Alegre is more than a mere industrial unit. It is also part of the Portuguese heritage, boasting buildings of undeniable architectural interest, and a repository of social and artistic memories essential to the building of a Portuguese identity. And Carla Graça, Marketing Manager, told us all about it. For Carla, Vista Alegre is more than a fine china brand, Vista Alegre is a lifestyle brand. ”Vista Alegre is more than a luxury brand, it’s a prestigious brand,” she said. For her, one of the brand’s biggest pride is the fact that, on their products, there’s a Made in Portugal stamp. That’s the brand’s biggest propeller.
” We take pride in our (Vista Alegre) product range, that goes from 7.000€ china to 70€ gifts”
As we know, Boca do Lobo’s furniture is an exclusive emotional experience, a sense of belonging and a state of mind. The brand strives to encourage sensational experiences by creating beautiful pieces which are passionately inspired and handcrafted in Portugal by a staff that loves what they do. The brand’s designers possess an undeniable talent for composing pieces which stir emotion in their admirers. The artisan’s wisdom, accumulated from years of experience, is instilled with love and dedication in the art that they perform. No detail or element is overlooked as they offer the best at the frontier between design and art.
”Since I was a boy I got attached to craftsmanship” stated Marco Costa. Marco is more than just a designer. He’s both a thinker and a maker. For Marco, the word impossible doesn’t exist. For him, and by his hands, anything is possible, and we can see that in Boca do Lobo’s pieces.
”When do I become a maker? When the actual makers say it’s impossible to do something”
ROMboats, headed by Jorge Martins, is a Portuguese company focused on the rehabilitation of old recreational boats. From old, decrepit boats to floating jewels, ROMboats is taking the naval business by storm. With the help of several prominent designers, the company’s boats are unique, sumptuous and, above all, an aesthetic poem.
As Jorge explained, ROM stands for Rebuilding Ocean Motivation, as an ode to everything the deep blue as to offer, from resources to leisure activities. ”The Italian boat-makers often order the wood and upholstery from Portugal and the boat’s skeleton from Poland, but the shipyard is Italy” said Jorge, as a way to explain the value of Portugal’s know-how. For Jorge, there’s no one better than the Portuguese craftspeople, and the world is starting to see that.