Best Portuguese interior designers and architects are known for combining tradition, innovation, and passion through remarkable works. 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 one of them. Discover the perspective of Joana Astolfi on Portuguese design and architecture.
Joana Astolfi is 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 a Portuguese 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.”
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Joana’s studio has two major departments: interior architecture and the artistic one. It might strike you as an expected combination, but the end result is everything but foreseen. ‘’We do interior architecture projects closely linked to shops, restaurants and hotels. We make shop windows, where our main client is Hermès, with whom we have worked with for five years”.
For Joana, it’s all about concept. She needs to tell a story: her story. It’s all about a narrative, and how to best portray it. It’s like a Triptych: a conjugation between art, architecture and a story, ultimately creating a full painting. “The concept has to be very strong. I always have to tell a story, and it has to be one that is perceptible. The narrative, the concept, the rigour of the project, the execution are all crucial in my projects and so is consistency, risk-taking and making mistakes.’’
The artist highlighted two of the most difficult challenges that she usually faces: time and budget. Time, because the Sistine Chapel wasn’t painted in just one night. And budget because you can’t really put a price on an artistic intervention.
“The deadline is always a pivotal question. People always ask for projects for yesterday. In architecture, people still understand that it’s a work that takes some time. But art takes a long time. One of the most important things in the execution of a work of art is time. The budget is very important too. Sometimes we have problems with the budget.”
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