Just days before our very last event from the series on sustainable practices and the role of design in reframing the narrative on the imminence of taking actions for saving the planet now, we present our special guests in consecutive interviews.

We look forward to seeing them and hearing their stories live at the event in Plovdiv, on Tuesday, November 22, at 18:00 in “Kapana” Gallery.

João Bruno Videira is a self-taught artisan and furniture designer since 2006, when he created his own first brand: água de prata, with which he reinvented the use of a traditional and excellency raw-material in Portugal – the wool. Since then he represented Portugal in several international design fairs such as the London Design Fair in 2017 and 2019, the Dutch Design Week in 2019 and the Dubai Design Week in 2020. João Bruno used to work as a TV journalist, till he found in art and design his new way of expression.

João, initially you worked as a TV journalist. Tell us about your radical change from being a journalist to creating handmade objects.

JV: Apparently both worlds have no connection but in my opinion that is not so obvious and to be honest I do continue to communicate, to tell stories. I just changed the medium. It’s also visual communication, but instead of words and images now I use colors and forms.

Tell us something more about your working technique and how do you limit waste in your daily work.

JV: I work with wool, that’s my selected raw material and my creations are 100% handmade. I use
some traditional techniques that I adapted, such as the loom… because I transform the frames I use into looms, by weaving directly into the pieces. And there are other techniques such as sculpting, by addition, in which I use handmade wool ropes that I create depending on the object I am doing.

Limiting waste is always present in my work. Actually that’s how it all started 16 years ago, when I created my first object by giving a new life to an old chair. Since the beginning that is something I was completely aware and I knew I had to make something to fight it. We are garbage mass producers. Back then there was still no culture to promote reusing, the transformation of old objects into new ones… the upcycling.

Besides having my own design, since I started working in this field I always promote this philosophy, because most of the objects can be transformed into new ones or have a different function and last longer instead of being garbage. Not only I still continue to transform old objects every time it’s possible, but also I have a zero waste policy in my work. All the waste I create is reused in my creations… such as the wool stones or the tree sculptures. Inside they are full of my own wool waste. But I also reuse, for instance, old tires and transform them into wool sculptures.

What is your definition of sustainable/circular design and fashion?

JV: It’s a group of good practices that contribute to reduce our carbon foot print and promote a new model. A model that has concrete measures in all stages of production, from sourcing the right suppliers, to manufacturing, to packaging, all in order to preserve our environment.

What do you love most about being a textile sculptor?

JV: What I love most is the power of creating with my own hands, it’s a kind of magic. A real pleasure that is difficult to describe.

Your products are aesthetic, functional and minimalistic. Which are the main values, core concepts or style inclinations that, above all, will always represent your work and yourself?

JV: I’m very proud of having found my own language. Normally I don’t tend to follow trends, I just try to hear my inner self, being connected with my own essence. And that is reflected on my work I hope. Above all I believe that authenticity and originality are the keywords to define my work.

If you take someone who is interested in ethical design with you to Tomar, what places would you show them? What are the “musts” to visit (studios, shops, art spaces, galleries, etc.)?

JV: I’m very fortunate to work in an old factory that is now transformed into an art factory concept where different artisans and artists create and cooperate. So first I would make a guiding tour inside the building where I work, where people can also see other artisans in areas like pottery, basketry and tinsmith. There’s a very diverse universe of arts and crafts in this factory that is worth to see. Outside the factory that used to be an old mill, Tomar has a lot to offer although it’s a quite small city but still one of the most ancient and important in terms of Portuguese history.

The Templar knights choose Tomar as their headquarter in the 12th century, so the Templar castle and the convent of Christ on the top of the hill which is Unesco world heritage is a must see, it’s actually an art history lesson that we can have live. There’s also a contemporary art museum and a very unique one which is fully dedicated to a collection of matches from all over the world.

Another thing we cannot miss in Tomar which happens only every 4 years is the festival of trays. A very unique and genuine parade to honor the harvest and fertility where every woman carries a tray of its own size on the top of her head.