Ambiente Frankfurt 2017 allowed an all to seldom reunião with Portuguese brand Vicara. And an occasion which served to remind us that we really should catch up with them more often…..
In many respects we’ve been admirers of Portuguese brand Vicara since before Vicara even existed: Back at Dutch Design Week 2010 we met Spore Vase by Paulo Sellmayer, an object which instantly spoke to something deep within us and has become one of those reference objects we always return to when we either doubt why we do what we do, or begin to query what “design” is and if what it is is genuinely relevant.
Spore Vase always gives a straight answer.
In 2011 Paulo was one of the co-founders of Vicara: and that just at the moment the Portuguese economy was entering critical meltdown and had to be bailed out by loans from the international community. Loans which obliged the Portuguese government to introduce austerity measures. Technically not the best time to establish a new design brand. And especially not in a country such as Portugal which, and despite a long design tradition, has never been acknowledged as an international design hotspot. Isn’t on most peoples’ radars.
However through a strong focus on more experimental, conceptual, design; of developing low invasive, craft, production processes rather than objects per se; a judicious, if not exclusive, use of Portugal’s natural resources; the very occasional, kitsch free, reference to Portuguese tradition; and for all a belief in what they were doing, Vicara have made it work. Or perhaps better put, are making it work. There are still a few people who have yet to get the message.
But they will.
At Ambiente Frankfurt 2017 Vicara presented a collection of new objects from which we were very taken by the Caruma vase collection by Eneida Tavares. Crafted from a mix of ceramic and traditional Angolan pine needle basketry, there is a delightful synergy about the objects. And that achieved less through any tension between the materials and much more through a contentedness: like when dogs of different breeds and dispositions live harmoniously together under one roof. It might not be logical, but makes perfect sense. In addition there is something very pleasing about the way the basketwork adds a decorative element without impinging on or dominating the conservative sobriety of the ceramic, each material has their place in the whole and completes their task with bravura.
In addition the Vicara portfolio has been very neatly, and pleasingly, extended by works such as Veneer Lamp by Luis Nasciment and the decanter and glass set Cerne by Samuel Reis, which is moulded inside a tree trunk, thus bestowing the objects their unique structure.
Equally as pleasing as the way Vicara have developed their portfolio is the fact that in doing so they have established a healthy roster of young Portuguese designers, something which we hope bodes well for the future. For both Vicara and Portuguese design in general.
Full details on Vicara and their 2017 collection can be found at http://vicara.org