The Candour of Innocence: Looking at Portuguese Design | The Plan
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The Candour of Innocence: Looking at Portuguese Design

The Candour of Innocence: Looking at Portuguese Design
By Cristina Morozzi -

The more fashions and styles become standardised, consumer society serves up look-alike commodities, and huge companies become supranational, the more design brandishes its particular national identity. Design seems to seek vitality in a return to its cultural roots. So it is no surprise that many of the most significant and exciting design products on the contemporary scene hail from countries that do not yet enjoy economic prosperity, and whose history and geography have sheltered from social and cultural standardisation. The best Portuguese design projects have all the freshness of the newcomer, the moral rigueur of the recent convert and the playfulness of a people with the future ahead of them. They exude a Utopian hopefulness, a confidence that high quality design will redeem the merely commercial. It was also not surprising that the cat walks for ModaLisboa, Portugal’s major fashion week, was the work of one of the icons of the new generation: Miguel Vieira Baptista. His sure, deft style was the only true design element in the whole show, providing a dignified, albeit slightly austere, backdrop that lent weight to the ephemeral fashion circus.
Perhaps this somewhat apostolic quality is part of the Portuguese DNA. Perhaps their lingering melancholy has something to do with being at the most western tip of Europe. Perhaps it’s a general sense of not belonging, an inherited trait of a nation of navigators. Fado is the soulful song of Portuguese women whose men are always away at sea. It sings of loss and longing. And it’s a general sense of loss that seems to permeate this land that for centuries looked beyond its shores across the seas. Today, bereft of an empire, their gaze no longer has a fixed spot on the horizon. Yet this could well be why Portuguese design is so uncluttered. It comes from their startlingly fresh gaze on things. They have the candour of innocence, the drive to open up new horizons - not geographical but of the mind. Portuguese design...

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