EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH NINI ANDRADE SILVA, The Mastermind Behind Villa Foz Hotel Design ♦ Nini Andrade Silva is definitely a figure that doesn’t pass by unnoticed when it comes to Portuguese design. With her origins and heart set in Madeira, this bespoke designer is definitely an international force when it comes to promoting Portuguese craftsmanship. Secrets From Portugal will let you in on the exclusive interview we had with her during the LDC Summit, and also, some of her best-known projects in the country.
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Nini Andrade Silva is a person whose path definitely took her in several directions especially to countries such as New York, London, Paris, South Africa and Denmark. She’s been known for having many interior design projects all over the world, projecting the name and fame of Portugal’s quality design and craftsmanship in that regard. When it comes to describing her style she states that it’s definitely “minimalistic with a little bit of soul to it”.
Madeira is definitely one of the main inspirations for her work and design. That can definitely be seen in some examples of her work such as the Garouta do Calhau collection, heavily inspired by the pebbles on that island. She confessed that she feels a sense of peace unlike any other place in the world she’s been to.
“Madeira has always given me much peace, much freedom, not to mention the sea, the light. And I think a person who’s in this environment has to create.”
The fact that Nini Andrade Silva has worked in different countries and dealt with different cultures has given her a unique sensibility to distinct cultures. She even recalled a past client who had a reading room in a bedroom and a pantry within a room with windows. From that experience, Nini became more aware of some cultural differences from country to country and from culture to culture.
“The difference is so big from country to country that what we definitely need to do is try to know, meet the people, the culture, respecting and then proceed with creations.”
Nini is a definite defensor and promotor of Portuguese craftsmanship, believing that every design of craft piece is special, either if its’ being shown in its country of origin, or in a foreign country. During the interview, she recalled an episode in which she introduced some of the best examples of the arts and crafts from her country to Colombia, a whole different country from the Portuguese.
“We took the traditional concept of the piece of traditional craftsmanship and we adapted it to present day. For example, for the nine hotels that I designed in Colombia, we did everything based on craftsmanship. From the carpets, all of them handmade, to the tapestries that we lined on the walls, the jars. It was so much craftsmanship that we used on those hotels that I remember the local people thanking me for showing Colombia how much craftsmanship was worth and it was very nice to see.”
The designer also criticized the fact that many designers dream too much os making their “piece of a lifetime”, emphasizing the importance of keeping the focus on producing a simple yet usable piece. Having defined herself as a person who “doesn’t follow any trends”, seeking “to create them” instead, Nini Andrade Silva is an example of a person who appreciates a challenge even to the hardest of clients.
“When a client doesn’t like an idea I think I’m in the right path! Because you can tell he never saw it. When we show our work to the client we’ve been through a careful study of the process, and if we’ve studied it, then we’re already sure that that is what we want to show.”
In regards to the future of Portugal when it comes to preserving their arts and crafts and also regarding the recognition from other countries the designer feels happy regarding the confidence that many people in the country have gained. She feels that more and more Portuguese involved in that industry are becoming more confident in their design work, feeling that it’s very good that they can get to defend both their history and their work.
See Some Of Nini’s Projects:
Vila Foz Hotel & Spa – PORTO, PORTUGAL
The Vila Foz Hotel & Spa’s Interior Design Project stands in between the refinement of more than a century of history and the romantic-inspired metamorphosis that reflects the constructive versatility of the existing building. With an iconic location, Vila Foz Hotel & Spa’s Interior Design Project has a special significance for ensuring a high standard of refinement, in which respect for the building’s constructive Era (last decade of the 19th century), as well as its principles of elegance and spatial distribution rationality. In a common signature to the whole project, the Atelier Nini Andrade Silva sought to preserve the original elements and giving importance to the symbols, aesthetic idiosyncrasies and architectural elements sublimated by the details, whose expressivity will be felt in the quality of the materials, perfection of the finishes, softness of the textures and in the richness of the decorative elements, both of the existing building, and of the new building built from scratch.
Porto Royal Bridges Hotel – PORTO, PORTUGAL
The concept for the Porto Royal Bridges Hotel reflects the architectural and constructive versatility of the existing building, as well as its geographical proximity to the bridges of Porto city, eventually merging with the history and identity of the territory! In reference to the industrial period of the end of the XIX century, the time of construction of large manufacturing units, communication lines such as the bridges of D. Maria and D. Luis I, the interior design program takes shape through the use of and modernist elements, industrial equipment, iron and glass infrastructures. Light, secured by large glazing, in contrast to the more contained openings of adjacent buildings, reflects the lightness of proportions, suggested by materials such as iron, concrete and glass, as opposed to the stone of neighbouring buildings.
RESTAURANT 100 MANEIRAS – LISBON, PORTUGAL
The Atelier Nini Andrade Silva took as a form of expression the feeling of “Decadentism” that crossed with unique elements linked to the universe of the fantastic and enchanted stories where dreams become real! We sought to create a space populated by the origins and feelings underlying this artistic and literary chain born in Europe in the last two decades of the nineteenth century. We have explored the sensation of a lugubrious environment that appears to us with contours and provocative, ironic and not obvious forms. We brought into the space new and intense sensations, such as the natural and velvety texture patterns, the moss that lives in dark and damp environments, the cascades of pure and crystalline water that invite you to enter a world of magic by Chef Ljubomir Stanisic. The entire creative process was dominated by the imagination, which resulted in the cult of extravagant forms and neologisms, of which we highlight the huge exclusive lamp with wax candles to melt, the natural and organic forms of the great root suspended in the ceiling of the entrance and the garden of winter that causes us the sensation of balance and comfort. The final idea was born precisely of an intimate and dedicated creative process, to which the Atelier responded with the purpose of “replacing reality with the dream of reality”! It was an evolution thought out, studied and matured by all the teams involved in the project. We have chosen elements and materials in their purest state, such as wood, natural iron, glass, stone and exposed concrete with aged finishes, all chosen with the aim of giving aesthetic coherence to a whole.
Hotel O Artista – LISBON, PORTUGAL
In a sincere apology to the artistic soul of Lisbon, the Atelier Nini Andrade Silva signs the interior design project of the new Hotel O Artista, which is born in the city downtown. The interior design concept came into light inspired by the first half of the last century, in a frenzied Lisbon of cultural movements that emerged far from the stages of the war and especially in a time where musicians, actors, composers, writers and thinkers filled into life and shine the Portuguese capital. In a metamorphosis exercise between space itself and the most varied expressions of culture and the arts, Atelier sought conceptual influences beyond his own source of inspiration, engaging in a mysterious Lisbon of spies and fatal women, late cabarets and crowded cafes, delicate restaurants and brightly lit nights
PALÁCIO SOTTOMAYOR – PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS – LISBON, PORTUGAL
With a unique architecture together with one century of history and progress, Sottomayor Palace, which has undergone a remarkable intervention in the interior design made by Atelier Nini Andrade Silva, is now the home of PricewaterhouseCoopers! In “composite style”, the architectural program of the property refers to French inspiration, contrasted by a contemporary style interior design in which some elements of exclusive design gain a special highlight, such as the great light in the reception and in the main meeting room, as well as the large red sofa (one of the colours that define the brand image of PwC) that populates the entire large central hall, illuminated by a huge skylight.
The piece is “Sofa Dune” with exclusive design by Nini Andrade Silva and belonging to the furniture design collection “Garota do Calhau”. In a perfect match between volume and design, we provide importance to colours, symbols and shapes that represent the strength of PwC’s institutional identity. Space was all intervened through the creation of environments with their own identity, attitude, dynamism and contemporaneity combined with the history of a building with unique aesthetic and architectural characteristics.
Saccharum Hotel Resort & Spa – MADEIRA ISLAND, PORTUGAL
The Saccharum Hotel Resort & Spa, located in Calheta Village, at Madeira Island, is a tribute to the history of the culture of sugarcane and honey and brandy production, some of the most important local products for the Island economy. Where once existed a traditional honey and brandy production manufacture, Nini Andrade Silva designed a hotel that pays homage to this universe, where the unique design gives to the space excellence and greatness of one more unique hotel! In allusion to the traditional sugarcane factories, the inside of the Spa is in brown brick, with stained concrete floor with colour brands reminding honey. Throughout the space we find giant photographs in reference to the world of sugarcane and honey production, conveying realism and drama of the immense beauty of sugarcane. The colours of sugar-cane and dry green tones with notes of wood, provide the necessary comfort to minimalist interior design.