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Interview with Joana Santos Barbosa

Home > Designer Interviews > Joana Santos Barbosa

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Joana Santos Barbosa (JSB) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Joana Santos Barbosa by clicking here.

Interview with Joana Santos Barbosa at Monday 23rd of May 2022
Joana Santos Barbosa
FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
JSB: I never had a doubt that I would go through a path connected to art. Having taken my degree in Architecture and worked in my early career in architectural projects, Design is a reality in which I’ve been part in the recent years, although I’ve been designing furniture for so long but that would just remain on paper. My work is an extension of who I am. If, on the one hand, I received strong artistic influences, on the other, I lived my childhood in a house in front of an agricultural field where I observed nature’s wonders. My designs mirror my incluences.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
JSB: After some years working exclusively as an Architect, the desire to transform some personal ideas into design pieces was growing and when I realized, I had a portfolio. To create a personal brand, I needed to find partners and study manufacturing processes to achieve the goal of creating my team. This process took me almost three years and in 2012 I launched InsidherLand, my brand of author design. Initially, I started by developing the Beyond Memory collection that is based on elements of nature, organic forms, legends and traditions of indigenous cultures. In this collection, connected with the “Land” and that follows the name of the Brand, I developed a range of pieces in storage, upholstery, lighting and mirrors. In 2016, I presented my second collection named Identity, in which I explore urban themes that come from my contact with Architecture, art and music. In this collection, I explore a more purist design that contrasts with the richness of materials such as marbles, woods and metals. Identity quickly gained a prominent place among InsidherLand buyers.

FS: What is "design" for you?
JSB: In a broad sense, design goes further that the objective problem-solving. We operate with design, making it part of our human experience as we are full time surrounded by it. We find design in the cover of a book, when navigating through a website, when putting our fingers in a keyboard, when siting on a chair and so on... Design is used for communicating and interacting. If good design is an idea that fully works towards a goal, it also acts subconsciously in our perceptions and interactions with others. When mastering design, one can create objects, images or signs that are innovative and overcome problems but mostly, elevate human experiences to a higher level.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
JSB: The Looshaus wall lamp is my masterpiece. It is a minimal piece, completely based on the modernist principles we find in the Looshaus building by the Architect Adolf Loos. This wall lamp is made out of a single block of Carrara marble and the “negative” of the piece itself is what creates a gallery with crossed light. It is perfectly proportioned and the interior, in which all electrical features are hidden, is as wonderfully produced as the design itself.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
JSB: The Homeland sideboard. I designed this sideboard for my own apartment in 2099, and it was also the starting point of my own brand, InsidherLand. Previously, I worked in Architecture studios.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
JSB: Brass.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
JSB: Most likely when I'm on vacation and out of my daily routine.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
JSB: I always work with four pillars: concept, form, function and emotion.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
JSB: Excitement and wonderment! Design is an exhausting but fun process.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
JSB: I feel really enthusiastic during the process but usually get dethatch as soon as I release a new design. I believe this is due to the fact that this new creation is a living piece in my mind for so long that, when it is finally released to the public, it is not completely mine anymore. It’s quite a strange process that, until today, I couldn’t figure it all out.

FS: What makes a design successful?
JSB: Personally, I believe that is the public acceptance.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
JSB: Designers “play” with people’s emotions, just as an actor does. We bring reactions up to the surface. Saying this, we also have the responsibility to create a serious work that is made upon the correct values and assumptions. Design is everywhere and we interact with it in an almost subconscious way so, designers have the power to influence society in a positive way.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
JSB: My most recent exhibition was last March 2022 at Maison&Objet in Paris and the next one will be the Portugal Home Week, next June in Porto.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
JSB: The creative process is intuitive and results from my memories and places I treasure. The birth of a new piece may result from a new image that crosses my eyes or an old memory that’s revisited after a long time. When a new idea shows up, it automatically materializes in the mind with its form and function without a rational intervention on my behalf. For instance, the Arizona mirror is a reference to ‘The Wave’, a rock formation in the Unites States that I have on my bucket list. I know that landscape for so many years but a special photo I saw, suddenly "awakened" a personal interpretation of that place.

FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
JSB: I don’t look so much for a style. I prefer to develop my own DNA among my personal collections. I create effortlessly chic designs. Overall, I look at the creative process in design in much the same way as architecture, in the sense that there is form, function (the program in Architecture), concept (the basic idea that I intend to convey with materials) and emotion (the feeling that I intend to awaken in the viewer).

FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
JSB: I live in Porto, a city in the north of Portugal, where we have centuries of tradition working with woods, metals and marbles. In recent years, we have seen an evolution of the design made in Portugal, with an exploration of ancestral techniques existing in my country, but mostly in the valorization of design, not only as a tool for creating products but as a central point of brands communication. As consequence, the acceptance of this new mentality by international markets has been extremely positive for the proliferation of the Portuguese culture. The Portuguese heritage has been incredibly important for me as my work is deeply anchored to the use of noble materials we find in Portugal and to the respect for the craft techniques practiced in the specialties with which I work daily such as wood, metal, marble, upholstery and lighting. It is very special to work directly with artisans and to coordinate the work between the team in order to achieve a final result of perfection with high quality finishes.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
JSB: InsidherLand, my brand, presents two collections that are designed to complement each other. Beyond Memory, the first collection, reflects how I’m deeply influenced by the wonders of the natural world. Launched in 2016, the Identity collection show fragments of another side of my journey, in which I work a more urban side, connected to my training in Architecture and the contact I’ve always had with art, dance and music. In both collections, each piece has a strong background that influences the entire design process which allows the public to fully understand my creative intentions. As examples, the Utopia dining table and Arches dining chair are related to the complexity of some Utopian cities I’ve studied a long time ago. The Seagram lamps show a modernist constructive choice I found in the Seagram building when I first visited in New York many years ago. The Arizona mirror is a reference to ‘The Wave’, a rock formation in the Unites States that I have on my bucket list.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
JSB: . A new sofa I’m about to release and that was firstly designed for my living room . My Niemeyer II swivel armchair . The Homeland sideboard, the first piece I designed for InsidherLand . My dining table that I found in an antique dealer . An old table from the 19th century with an incredible marble that I inherited from my grandparents and reconverted into a furniture piece to stand my tv.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
JSB: No matter what, each individual is unique and should firstly look inside to find their own creativity and strategy, rather than falling into comparison with who and what is already being successful in the market. Just focus on what you can control.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
JSB: Design for others, but with your own heart.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
JSB: Design, as architecture or any other creative forms of expression, can’t be fully taught by the simple fact that they are not centered in the discovery of rules nor in results of single solutions. From my own perception, I see these disciplines has having individual “boxes of knowledge” that contain what can be taught and around them the blanc spaces where creativity flows through. In creative disciplines like design, premises given to different creatives will certainly result in several solutions. Crossing the understanding of the problem with the individual's sensitivity connects the “boxes” suitable for a specific solution. It’s by organizing them through a personal perspective that we are able to induce intangible emotions in people.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
JSB: The sources for my work can be found anywhere, specially outside the office. Nature, art, architecture, music, book, music. Anything can be a starting point. I mostly develop my ideias throught scketches, 2D drawings and mockups. At the factories, with my team, we develop real scale models and work directly in prototipes.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
JSB: It can take 6 months or 6 years. I only release a new design when I feel it is completely balanced.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
JSB: How I started my company and how do I turned my sources of inspiration into a successful business.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
JSB: Interiors designers that develop luxury projects that some of the best hotels around the world.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
JSB: The Looshaus wall lamp is my masterpiece. It is a minimal piece, completely based on the modernist principles we find in the Looshaus building by the Architect Adolf Loos. This wall lamp is made out of a single block of Carrara marble and the “negative” of the piece itself is what creates a gallery with crossed light. It is perfectly proportioned and the interior, in which all electrical features are hidden, is as wonderfully produced as the design itself.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
JSB: In the future, I’m willing to develop other type of works in design that will be strategically created to complement my journey in design. At the moment it is still to be revealed.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
JSB: I design my own creations.

FS: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
JSB: At this moment I’m almost releasing four bar stools in my collections, which is something I had never designed before.

FS: How can people contact you?
JSB: www.insidherland.com


FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.


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