We, as the Designer Interviews ("DI") had the distinct pleasure and opportunity to interview award-winning, most creative and innovative Catarina Santos ("CS").

Designer Profile of Catarina Santos

Simplicity is a good word to define her. She believes that life is to be lived with the utmost authenticity, believes that we go further when we cooperate and care for each other. She is important in the sense that we are all important and this expanded vision makes all the difference. It is by example that we help the World to become a better place, and to set an example it is necessary to be very resilient, demanding, focused, interested, curious, flexible and authentic. Life has already shown her that in the end the most important thing is love and that is why she always try to place love in everything that she does. We think that for that reason we care so much about how we want our products to be responsible to the planet, to human, animal and plant life, lighting is a task of great responsibility because it interferes deeply with everyone's life, it has to be always done with great care. We believe that we are managing to move in this direction, in Portugal it is an area where there is still not much information, where people in general still do not know how important it is to live in spaces where there is a careful and properly prepared lighting. We have been trying to do this awareness work through monitoring and demonstration. We believe that it is really important for the future not only of society but also of the planet, to integrate the awareness-raising part in this area, it is no longer enough to just buy, you need to know what you are buying and buy the right thing . Otherwise, we are contributing to a more polluted planet and less healthy people. They believe that as long as their voice is not audible, their talents will not be visible.

Catarina Santos Designs

We are pleased to share with you original and innovative design work by Catarina Santos.

Cobra Pendant Light

Catarina Santos Design - Cobra Pendant Light

Designer Interview of Catarina Santos:

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?

CS : I never really knew what I wanted to be. I like many different things and choosing a profession was always a difficult task. Very connected to the arts, born in a family of photographers for more than 4 generations, I decided to take decorative arts, a vast course within the arts that would allow me to be in contact with different aspects and thus allow a broader view to facilitate the choice of the direction to take . But with my father's early death, I was led to take on the photography company we inherited, along with my sister, that also is a photographer. I did several things in that period, essentially graphic design, but I highlight the interest that I developed in the lighting part of photography. It was there that I established contact with the lighting company where I am currently a designer. The contact with lighting design gave me a special interest in this type of product, which led me to a master's in industrial and product design in 2015 and to take several specific online courses in the field of lighting. Today I believe that I am where I have to be and that I do my job with extreme passion and dedication.

DI: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?

CS : Tromilux is a portuguese brand that manufactures technical lighting products. It is a major player in the lighting industry in Portugal and has grown steadily since its conception in 2004, expanding their business to countless markets around the world over the past few years. As a company, it values rigor during the manufacturing process, as well as during the product development, and deeply values the relationship with its customers, suppliers and peers. Tromilux continuously invests in the diversification of their markets and products, aware that only the delivery of a good service and an image of confidence, combined with innovation and quality, will meet the needs and expectations of our customers. This is what we work for daily, for the satisfaction of our trusted clients.

DI: What is "design" for you?

CS : For me, design is a union of several things. It is art, it is responsibility, it is science, it is at the service of the other, at the service of the future, it is taking steps on the path of evolution. It means having the ability to enter the user's world in order to really understand their needs and limitations.

DI: What kinds of works do you like designing most?

CS : Lighting products and develop, study and prepare which lighting is most suitable for each living space.

DI: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?

CS : At this moment I feel a lot of admiration for the work developed by the designer Neri Oxman, in the area of ecological materials, her project Aguahoja being my favorite. I am fascinated by designers with a high sense of responsibility, combined with aesthetics, concept and usability.

DI: What was the first thing you designed for a company?

CS : My first project was a pendant lamp inspired by the children's game “love me, love me not” that had the function of improving the acoustics of the canteens in moments of greater adhesion. It had a mechanism similar to that of an umbrella that made it open and close when necessary.

DI: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?

CS : When I enrolled in my master's degree I discovered that I am passionate about materials, I can't define only one, I love to understand how each one works, what are its specific characteristics and what are the possibilities within each material.

DI: When do you feel the most creative?

CS : For me it is on my most rational side, it is when I get excited about research and I manage to put myself in the shoes of those who need that design to gain more quality of life.

DI: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?

CS : Responding to user needs with quality, practicality and beauty is my main focus.

DI: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?

CS : I feel enthusiasm and satisfaction because each project means constant learning and evolution, both personally and professionally.

DI: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?

CS : When I finish a project initially I feel accomplishment, relief and I look forward to it. After some time, and realizing the impact on the user, I feel happiness, pride and gratitude, if it doesn't go so well, I feel that I have learned.

DI: What makes a design successful?

CS : I consider that a design project is successful when it meets the needs of the user and is aligned with what is intended for a better future with regard, for example, for environmental issues, a theme with which I very much identify with and which I always try to consider during each project.

DI: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?

CS : I mainly value the functionality and responsibility built in the project in relation to the environment.

DI: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?

CS : This is one of the most important questions for me, and one that I think all designers should ask before starting any project. We designers have a huge responsibility, because everything we design will influence the world that we will leave for our children.

DI: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?

CS : I think that design is increasingly gaining notoriety and recognition as a fundamental area in the lives of all of us, and I believe that its future requires a commitment to a more sustainable, socially and environmentally responsible lifestyle.

DI: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?

CS : The last exhibition in which I participated, was with the company where I work, Tromilux, at Concreta 2019, in Porto, Portugal. The next exhibition, also through Tromilux, will be the Light + Building 2022, in Frankfurt.

DI: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?

CS : Inspiration comes from everything I've ever experienced, heard, seen, felt, dreamed of, questioned. It is in art, in literature, in architecture, in dance, in conversations, in people, in plants, in the sky, in conversations, even in things that I think I no longer have memories. We are the fruit of everything we live, everything we know. When I need inspiration I usually do two totally different things, one is to see a lot of images on that subject, the other is to stop, go out for a breath, sleep.

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?

CS : I think my design style has a very technical basis, it is minimalist and clean and I try to get closer to organic aesthetics combining functionality with environmental responsibility.

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?

CS : I live in Portugal, no doubt that my cultural heritage, as well as the fact of living in a small country located by the sea in a corner of Europe, greatly influences the way I design, the pros are simplicity, honesty, common sense and concern for others. Cons shyness and less accessibility.

DI: How do you work with companies?

CS : Right now I work exclusively for Tromilux.

DI: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?

CS : My suggestion is that they are available to trust the work of the designer and give them space for them to create.

DI: Can you talk a little about your design process?

CS : My work process goes through several phases, from research, inspiration and studies, to the organization of tasks, distribution of them among the team and definition of deadlines, always with a focus on the desired end result but open to small changes and solutions that appear throughout the project and that optimize it.

DI: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?

CS : I consider lighting to be one of the most important items in a home, as different lamps create different environments for different spaces and give personality to the house. I also highly value the design of kitchen furniture, which I think should be as clean and practical as possible, with plenty of storage, preferably. The design of the bathrooms is also very important for everyday life and, despite considering that it must be aesthetically personalized, it must, above all, be easy to maintain and clean. A good sofa (or more than one) can make all the difference in the comfort of the home and socializing with family and friends as well as ergonomic and comfortable chairs for the dining table, since the moments of meal are really important after a long day of work, as it is at the table that many times not only enjoy a good meal, but relax and socialize with our closest. Certain household appliances, such as a beautiful coffee machine, for example, that I use daily, also make a difference in design and daily practicality.

DI: Can you describe a day in your life?

CS : My days always start with good coffee and a few pages of reading. After this ritual I get ready for work, where I spend most of my day. In my workplace I divide myself between several tasks, some more technical and others more creative, achieving each goal thanks to constant teamwork, which I greatly appreciate. I really feel that this cooperation and good atmosphere between colleagues, as well as sharing and discussing ideas is fundamental to achieve good results in the short and long term. After work I pick up my daughter and we return home together, and from there I take the opportunity to dedicate my time and disconnect a little from the working world through this interaction. As a family we cook, eat, talk, watch movies or series, play games, making the most of this end of day, recharging our energy for the next day.

DI: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?

CS : Keep yourself curious, attentive, explore trends and your own ideas, take some time to invest in yourself, always try to see the world from different perspectives, never lock yourself in dogma and never be afraid to take chances!

DI: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?

CS : I think it is an exciting, challenging and full of possibilities to be creative and let your imagination run wild. Design, applied to people and society and taking into account their diverse needs, changes lives, which makes this profession very rewarding. As for the negative points it sometimes becomes a difficult area as it is often not properly recognized and valued by society and customers. Many people just see this area as being aesthetic and do not understand the value and effort placed on functionality and communication, factors that are so important and that make the whole process much more complex than you can imagine. It is an area of high responsibility and also of mental wear and tear that demands constant learning, focus and dedication from the professional in order to meet the needs of each client and project.

DI: What is your "golden rule" in design?

CS : It involves meeting the user's needs, easing their daily lives, both in terms of communication and in terms of accessibility to useful and differentiating objects.

DI: What skills are most important for a designer?

CS : Focus, resilience, creativity, confidence, willingness to keep up to date and learn, humility, the ability to work in a team, an open mind and a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

DI: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?

CS : For me it is already impossible to live without Adobe software but, obviously, I need other tools in my daily life to inspire me, such as Archiproducts, Pinterest or a good book.

DI: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?

CS : Organization and communication with the client and team are fundamental in the time management process. I use several tools that help me to move forward within the defined deadlines, such as my schedule and some software where I describe the tasks to be performed and those already performed. And lots of post-its!

DI: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?

CS : It varies a lot according to each project.

DI: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?

CS : I am often asked if I like what I do because they think it must be an exciting lifestyle.

DI: What was your most important job experience?

CS : The most important work experience for me was the development of a very complex lighting catalog, in which I personally dealt with the various areas, from photography to editorial design, pagination and prepress, and in which I had to learn a lot about the area of luminaires. That was the project that boosted my entry into the company where I currently work, Tromilux.

DI: Who are some of your clients?

CS : At this moment I work exclusively for the company Tromilux.

DI: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?

CS : I consider myself a multidisciplinary designer and for that reason I like the dynamics of alternating between different types of projects, whether they are more inclined towards communication or product.

DI: What are your future plans? What is next for you?

CS : I intend to continue developing work at Tromilux and to learn more and more about lighting, improving my skills day by day.

DI: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?

CS : I always work as a team.

DI: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?

CS : The engineering and design team of the company where I work currently has several projects under development, all secret, for now.

DI: How can people contact you?

CS : People can contact me through my professional e-mail catarinamontenegro@tromilux.com.

DI: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?

CS : No, I have nothing to add. Thanks!