Essay #02 - Portuguese Design 2014

It's a common place saying that the crisis is the mother of invention, but 2013 was a great year in terms of appearance (and establishment) of portuguese projects in different areas such as viniculture, music or style, just look at brands like Ideal & Co, Paulino Spectacles or La Paz. However, and despite our tradition in the area, furniture making always has been the poor relative in the creation of new and exciting projects in Portugal. Despite many international brands producing in Portugal and the innovative De La Espada (co-founded by a portuguese) having a factory in the Silver Coast, near Porto, to this date there isn't a portuguese brand that has shown our true capacity to make quality furniture. Examples like Wewood, Branca Lisboa or Boa Safra prove that we're closer to achieve what small/medium size brands do in nordic countries and United Kingdom, however the lack of attention to detail and collection coherence or the choice of designers with a poor aesthetic culture, always falls short.
In recent weeks, talking with two designers, each one a creative director of a portuguese furniture brand, both told me that's difficult to manage the creative side of business in the middle of the daily management of a production unit, the market pressures and the attempt to mold the talent of craftsmen to new aesthetic needs. However, like other business areas have proved, the potential of Portugal is immense, but we've to look at it with international eyes. Beyond the pieces quality and details (that are very important), portuguese brands have to bet (and take more attention) to product photography, to designers (a selection of the best in Portugal and a new wave of international talent would be the perfect recipe) and acknowledge the value of craftsmen. The De La Espada factory video was directed by Juriaan Booij.