We, as the Designer Interviews ("DI") had the distinct pleasure and opportunity to interview award-winning, most creative and innovative Mónica Pinto de Almeida ("MPDA").
Mónica Pinto who was born in the north of Spain and spent most of her childhood between Spain and the north of Portugal now has her own studio in Sintra, Portugal. Mónica is driven by her passion where her memories are an integral part of her imagery and are nouns such as memory, history, poetry and shapes that build her own personal and daily universe. All the lighting pieces and objects created by Mónica follow a narrative of emotions and stories creating a uniqueness and timeless design where her artistic education mixed with her sensorial universe is translated into designs of conceptual and architectural language, poetic and innovative at the same time.
Mónica Pinto de Almeida Designs
We are pleased to share with you original and innovative design work by Mónica Pinto de Almeida.
Designer Interview of Mónica Pinto de Almeida:
DI: 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?
MPDA : I was born in the north of Spain and spent most of my childhood between Spain and the north of Portugal. Having a multicultural family where Art in all its forms was always present since a very early age. So, when I started my academic studies, I fell in love with decorative Arts, the experience to work with raw materials such as natural pigments, plasters, canvas in different supports, like walls and ceilings gave me a new perception of volumes, a better understanding of the very nature of the materials and a new comprehension of the Art history and the endless search of the human being to be surrounded by beauty. I developed my studies in the areas of Frescoes, Trompe L'oeil, Decorative Painting, Restoration, XVI Hand-painted Tiles techniques, Drawing and Art history. After several years working in all these above areas, the interest and passion for Design appeared naturally, a new world where I was able to materialize the colors, the volumes, and the shapes that I have always worked in multidimensional pieces.
DI: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
MPDA : I started my studio in 1996 with everything related to Frescoes, Decorative Painting, Restoration, and creation of new mural painting techniques. In 2014 the interest and passion for light and Design materialized under the brand MOKKI as a lighting and furniture design studio. The studio is based in Portugal, Lisbon, a city bordered by the Atlantic Ocean just as my birth city. These social and demographic characteristics bring a strength to the pieces, along with a natural melancholy of northern Portugal and Galicia. The pieces tell stories, and challenge shapes, the Mokki language is graphic, architectural, and colorful. All Mokki pieces or objects are created and manufactured in Portugal.
DI: What is "design" for you?
MPDA : Design for me is the translation of Art through a conscient thinking of everything which makes our environment more special and where “Each line is the beginning of a story”.
DI: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
MPDA : Having into account my background in Arts, chiaroscuro has always been studied in painting to create environments, emotions and stories. I fell in love without realizing, as always happens, with creating pieces, telling stories and giving them light. Lighting pieces might be the most challenging and passional to design, because without light there is no shadow, and without shadow there are no volumes, we need balance, the unknown, the dark and the light. I feel that every new design has to challenge us as a designer and as a human being.
DI: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
MPDA : I have no favorite piece, each piece is unique for me, because it reflects a time, a moment in my history. I have many moments and many passions that are reflected in my creations.
DI: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
MPDA : I haven't designed anything yet for a company.
DI: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
MPDA : Usually my favorite materials are organics, but more and more I love to work with new materials other than organics and learn new possibilities and work techniques. Regarding platforms or technologies, I do not have a preference, it all comes down to what a design needs.
DI: When do you feel the most creative?
MPDA : I usually feel more creative when faced to a challenge or a need. The people, the clients and their needs, the desires, everything creates that state of mind where ideas begin to unfold on their own. It is not a conscious process, but inspiration and creativity come from all the things that arouse my interest at a certain moment, feelings, experiences, travelling, cultures,… All these are stored and are a part of my design thinking process.
DI: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
MPDA : Beauty and functionality
DI: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
MPDA : When I start a design in the paper, everything starts with a line, and every line has a story. Sometimes in the process of creation, which often is full of chaos inside the mind, full of sleepless nights, restless thinking, and an exhausting emotional process, after all of that, usually comes a moment of peace, where every thought and line comes together as one. And in that moment is when I realize and feel the story behind. And that story comes always with emotions, speaks through the piece/object/light, its truth.
DI: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
MPDA : I usually feel a mix of peace, responsibility and an enormous curiosity about the response and the interaction with the public in general.
DI: What makes a design successful?
MPDA : For me a successful design is when you communicate with the user through the emotions, beauty and functionality of the same.
DI: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
MPDA : I usually consider first the aesthetics but always along with their purpose and functionality.
DI: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
MPDA : As designers we have to make life better, easier and more beautiful, always having in mind the whole manufacturing process, the materials we use and the impact they may have in our society and environment.
DI: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
MPDA : I think the design field is evolving in finding new materials and ways of working and producing in a better way for our environment. The future of Design may be bringing us more to ourselves and to our true nature.
DI: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
MPDA : My last exhibition was at LDF'2018 and Orgatec also in 2018. Taking into account the health problem existing this year with the covid'19 I hope next year I'll be able to attend new design exhibitions.
DI: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
MPDA : The inspiration for my works comes essentially from everything, from a color, a book, a painting, an artist, a city, a journey, comes from my background, from the city where I was born, from the Atlantic ocean... The way to feeding creativity is by staying alive, being aware of who we are and where we are, and look around you, always.
DI: 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?
MPDA : I like to say that my work changes and changes because it's natural, it's an expression of ourselves and our personal growth. I like to combine the human spirit with artisanal heritages, craftsmanship, new technologies and visions that may follow the MOKKI Philosophy. Art is for me the purest form of the humankind expression, where all the questions, doubts and restlessness of the soul and mind become matter.
DI: 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?
MPDA : I live in Portugal, and the cultural heritage not always has an influence in my designs. However, it's natural that even unconsciously certain aspects influence me, cultural or artistic ones. The north of Spain, in particular Galicia, where I was born has a very enigmatic and melancholic aura, that I always carry with me in some way and nowadays living in Portugal, together with my family, I feel similarities between these two places that maintain a very special connection with traditions, with the sea, with the people... As living in a not very big country, we all know each other and maybe we can support each other more, but in terms of production I do think that our industry and manufacturing needs to be more rigorous in its production and look at Design with the excellence that it deserves and needs.
DI: How do you work with companies?
MPDA : Until this moment I didn't have this experience.
DI: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
MPDA : Allow them to be creative, to have their own voice. Companies can select a good designer by looking at their body of work, understanding their philosophy, to see if their partnership will make sense and create a successful path.
DI: Can you talk a little about your design process?
MPDA : My design process starts with the idea, then translate that idea into something physical, drawings, sketches, color studies...later starts the 3D work on the computer to see everything, all the components functioning together. The next step is the production of a prototype where we have a better understanding of the piece, the things that are right and wrong, readjust every necessary step and finally starting the production of the same.
DI: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
MPDA : The lighting items, chairs, mid-century design furniture, old pieces without a particular style but history and pieces of art.
DI: Can you describe a day in your life?
MPDA : There are so different days, the only thing that remains the same is my first cup of tea in the morning. Some days continue in a very busy way, others are spent in the factories, others I have meetings and others I work with my team and at the weekends I try to charge the creativity and be with my loved ones.
DI: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
MPDA : Study a lot and learn a lot from the great designers, understand why things are so important, question everything, be humble and work hard.
DI: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
MPDA : For me, the positive aspects are when I feel that the public relates to and loves my projects. The negatives may be that sometimes it is a long journey to be recognized but we should never stop.
DI: What is your "golden rule" in design?
MPDA : Never copy.
DI: What skills are most important for a designer?
MPDA : Sensitivity, power of observation and the anticipation of a need.
DI: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
MPDA : Pencils, notebooks, papers, watercolours, sketchup software, autocad, solidworks, books, art books, colors, paintings...
DI: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
MPDA : The best I can.
DI: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
MPDA : Sometimes it can take a month, sometimes several months or even years.
DI: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
MPDA : What is my inspiration
DI: What was your most important job experience?
MPDA : Building up my own studio, first with the decorative arts and later with the creation of the brand MOKKI and the design studio.
DI: Who are some of your clients?
MPDA : Mainly private clients.
DI: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
MPDA : I like all the design work.
DI: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
MPDA : The internationalization of my brand
DI: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
MPDA : I develop the designs myself but then I work with my closest team and production team as well.
DI: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
MPDA : I have several furniture pieces that are being studied now and some lighting features are in the concept stage.
DI: How can people contact you?
MPDA : Through my website and my social media.
DI: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
MPDA : No, thanks.