Best Portuguese Designers And Architects ♦ Portugal can be a small country in size, but it’s huge in dimension and international recognition in terms of culture and design. We decided to highlight some of the best Portuguese designers and architects that are known for combining tradition, innovation, and passion through remarkable works.
Written by André Martins
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Nini Andrade Silva
Nowadays, it’s impossible to talk about Portuguese Interior Design without mentioning Nini Andrade Silva. The Portuguese Interior Designer was born in Funchal, Madeira, and is the personification of the mission and values of Secrets from Portugal: to take the Portuguese culture abroad, elevating it.
The woman that “doesn’t follow any trends. Instead, I seek to create them”, has interior design and architecture projects all over the world. Nini Andrade Silva, one of the best Portuguese designers, has been recognized for her superb work by many institutions, and she has become a frequent presence in prestigious publications such as The New York Times, Financial Times, Wallpaper, Condé Nast Traveler, Architecture Digest – just to name some of the most important. The Portuguese Interior Designer is also the author of different and unique furniture lines. She’s known for her versatility as she embraces her passion for painting, with her work exhibited in important collections and contemporary art museums, such as Ireland and New York.
Besides being one of the best Portuguese designers, Joana Astolfi is also an artist, architect and designer who draws visual inspiration from a broad universe of found objects. Porcelain statuettes, miniatures, vintage chairs, lamps, toys, diaries and photographs of people she never met populate and shape her creative vision. Her artworks, installations and window displays are inspired by imperfections, mistakes and a cheeky sense of humour.
Inspirations are something incredibly abstract. What strikes us as awe-inspiring might be something incredibly mundane for someone else. And the artist made it quite clear. “That’s a tricky question. For me, everything comes from art. Although I am an architect, everything comes from the basis of art, so I always make a very strong connection between art and architecture.”
It is highly unlikely, to say the least, to speak with an artist about architecture without mentioning art. For Joana, to make an artistic intervention in the midst of an interior architecture project is something unique, and close to the artist’s heart.
“In our interior architecture projects, I can intervene in a transversal way. For example, the artisan participates a lot. Lately, and for a long time, the clients ask us to make artistic interventions in space. And for me it’s perfect. People no longer go to a restaurant or a store to buy an object or have a meal. Nowadays, they go to have the experience.”
Oitoemponto, interior designers and architects
In Portuguese, Oitoemponto means “eight o’clock precisely”. And that precision is found in every single interior design project of the Porto-based team. With more than two decades of existence – Oitoemponto started their work together in 1993 –, Artur Miranda and Jacques Bec form a single pair, like you’ve never seen before.
They are part of the Top Portuguese Interior Designers, as they have given new life and meaning to unique places you can visit in Portugal, such as Le Monumental Palace, in Porto, Quinta do Pessegueiro, Villa Foz do Douro, and so on. What makes them truly uniques is their two bright minds, that are substantially different, but that never cease to complement each other.
Artur Miranda has a background from the worlds of fashion and design, which gives him a modern vision of design and an uncontrollable desire to break all the rules and take the next step towards trying the most unlikely (but stunning) combinations. His projects are marked by pops of colour, which he never gets tired of. To that, add Jacques Bec, an interior designer with the French touch running through his veins and with the most incredible enthusiasm, and you’ll have the most iconic pair of interior designers you have ever seen.
When it’s time to create, Oitoemponto takes into account every single detail, by examining the lifestyle of the client in order to create the most perfect match and be responsive to their wishes and needs. The result is a subtle mixture of the owners’ tastes and the incomparable talent of Jacques Bec and Artur Miranda.
Marco Costa, product designer
Marco Costa is now one of the best Portuguese designers, but he started to show his interest in craftsmanship works at an early age. “I was a nightmare at home, drawing on the walls of my parents’ home and destroying my sister’s dolls in order to do other “artistic” constructions. The thing I liked the most was to be close to my father, who was a metalwork artisan. I love working with him, and I believe that’s how my passion for arts began.”
In 2004, Marco Costa began his academic journey studying science; an adventure that he soon discovered was not his real passion. His heart beat for creativity, so he decided to study Arts and Design at the University of Coimbra, Portugal.
In 2009, he had the opportunity to turn his study about “Design, Art and Emotion” into a reality and that’s how his relationship with Boca do Lobo began. “Since this successful relationship started, I’ve been exposing “my” work around the world through Boca do Lobo. It’s been very exciting to be a part of Boca do Lobo’s internationalization and growing process.”
Marco Costa confesses he doesn’t believe in a “perfect world where inspiration lives in”: “I find it interesting when designers or artists are asked about their inspirations and what’s behind their creative process. However, those perfect stories only exist in books.”
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Martinho Pita, product designer and architect
With a degree in Architecture and Arts from the Edinburgh College of Art, the creative Martinho Pita started working in 2007 in several architecture offices in Lisbon. After spending some time in India and Rotterdam, Martinho returned to Portugal in 2010 where he continued to work with Urbanouveau*. He has created Martinho Pita Studio, where he works solo and in collaboration with different artists, expanding his creativity to other fields like product design. His work conveys a combination of tradition, innovation and passion.
Casa do Passadiço, interior decorators
The Casa do Passadiço, in Largo de S. João do Souto, in Braga, is one of the most beautiful houses in the city, which was built in the 15th century. In addition to that, it is from there that the best proposals of contemporary decoration, filled with a timeless tone, come out with comfort, elegance and quality.
This space owes its name to the fact that it was used as a passageway between the streets of São João and Souto. In the old days, any person who touched the bell of the house could use it to make the passage from one street to the other.
Catarina Rosas and her daughters, Claudia and Catarina Soares, are the designers who advise them on the purchase of unique pieces for their home or to give them the decoration project of their home, office or space. Casa do Passadiço is already known internationally, has several prizes in the field of decoration and has even been responsible for the Christmas decoration of the Palace of Belém.
Joana Vasconcelos, plastic artist
Joana Vasconcelos is a renowned Portuguese plastic artist that has been exhibiting her works since the mid-1990s considered nowadays as one of the best Portuguese designers. Her work gained international attention after her participation in the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005, with the piece “A Noiva” (The Bride). Vasconcelos’ creative process is based on the appropriation and decontextualization of everyday objects and realities, with a criticism of contemporary society. She was the first woman and the youngest artist to exhibit at the Palace of Versailles, in 2012, and some of the recent highlights of her career include a solo exhibition at Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
Dino Gonçalves, architect
The name Dino Gonçalves is becoming more and more familiar as days go by for being one of the best Portuguese designers and architects. As a result of his thoughtfully developed work, Dino has become one of the most prominent interior designers in Portugal. Nevertheless, his work is not only home-based. His signature can be found far and wide, from his birthplace of Madeira, to luxury hubs such as Luanda, Monaco and Dubai. Dino doesn’t restrain himself to interior design. The designer also develops artistic projects and window-dressing for well-known luxury brands, such as Christofle.
Pilar Paiva de Sousa, architect
Pilar Paiva de Sousa, commonly known as PPS, is an architectural/interior design practice based in Porto considered one of the best Portuguese designers. The studio’s years of celebrated experience resulted in a unique portfolio of clients, elevating the practice to the highest level. The studio’s main matière is hospitality design, and their expertise granted them work with several enormous international hotel chains, such as Meridien, Marriott, Hilton and Accor. Recently, the studio even added to their portfolio the renowned cruise ships operators Uniworld, Arnawaterways and Viking.
Paula Brito, architect
Throughout the years, Paula Brito, one of the best Portuguese designers, has become one of the most prominent names in interior design. Having her studio based in Barcelos, a Northern Portuguese city, the Designer achieved global recognition through the work she did with Cristiano Ronaldo, both in his private Madrid residence and in his hotels. Besides this magnum client, Paula has in her thoroughly curated portfolio incredibly lavishing clients, like the French powerhouse Hermès.
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