Marta Figueiredo of Figgoscope Curates
Fresh from her win at the 2018 Melbourne Fringe Furniture Awards where she picked up The Most Experimental Design Award for her iconic Totems, we had a quick chat with Marta Figueirdo about her works, materials and her design journey.
As well as being an architect, Marta produces a unique and delightful range of furniture and objects, bringing her love of quality materials, colour and rich textures together to great effect. Her personal range is designed and made in Melbourne and includes her (now award winning!) Totems, the functional, comfortable and beautiful Terramar armchair, playful Candy ottoman, sleek and versatile Eclipse ottoman/coffee table and many others. Her work is defined by her joyful use of colour, fine detail, and quality materials.
When I design the pieces I’m very much informed by the materials. I just start to look at them and think about how to play with them.
Marta has been bringing Portuguese and Melbourne design together for the past three years with Figgoscope. She first discovered and fell in love with our city and the local design scene when she visited in 2010 with her Australian partner before moving here in 2013.
We started to meander through the streets of North Melbourne and there’s all these workshops, artists, ceramicists, galleries and cute little shops. We really like the spirit of the place.
As a Portuguese Architect and avid painter Marta has a broad design education and has a deep respect for colour and materials. Far from her roots at the Porto School of Architecture – famous for its iconic, structurally-bold, but monotone style which heavily utilises white concrete, timber, metal, stone and glass, Marta now brings colour to her creations wherever possible.
Perhaps the most extraordinary element of Marta’s design is her heavy use of Burel wool from northern Portugal, and her personal relationship with the artisans and makers who produce it. Burel wool has been manufactured for centuries in the area near where Marta grew up, but it is only relatively recently that they expanded their traditional three colour range into what is now more than 65 vibrant and cosy woollen fabrics. Marta also worked to design innovative stitching techniques to allow her and others to create layered and seamless designs. She uses this extensively across her range, and in particular on the Eclipse ottoman/coffee table and her Prega and Canal bedheads.
I knew about Burel because it’s made near where I lived in Portugal. It’s very characteristic of the mountains and it was always in these very basic colours. They do the whole process within one factory and all the wool comes from the local area, from a very specific Portuguese sheep called Bordaleira. I went to the factory and learned all about the product, they showed me the whole process. We have a very close relationship and it’s nice that you can actually work with them and tell them which colours you would like.
We got the chance to see her recent collaboration with tapestry artist Vanessa Barragao titled Coral Moon. It is a striking combination of materials, shapes and techniques, with intricate woven coral and deep natural green stone separated by an aged brass frame.
I met Vanessa in Portugal last year. We started exploring a series of shapes and forms inspired by Bauhaus, and we both did hand-sketches to the point that we both agreed that it would work. I really like Vanessa’s work, she is someone who always has a very strong concept and sticks with it with imagination. Collaborating has challenges, but the challenges can be an interesting motive for a new thinking process or a new solution. It can be quite creative to bring a new idea to a product.
You can see Marta’s works at the Melbourne Fringe Furniture Festival from now until 30 September 2018 at the Abbotsford Convent.
MM: What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
MF: It’s a really bad habit but I go on my IPad. I’m very information hungry and I always want to know what’s going on the world.
MM: Where do you get your coffee?
MF: I don’t go for coffee, ever since I was a kid I always wake up like CHING and I feel like I wake up with hundreds of coffees in the morning.
In Portugal I used to go for a specific kind of tea which is called Carioka and is made from lemon zest in a coffee machine. If you go to Portugal it’s an amazing thing to have.
I love to go to Auction Rooms and Mork. Auction Rooms have great cakes.
MM: What are your plans for the future?
MF: I want to do more products, that’s my big dream. I still have the bridge with Portugal, the people there with all the plaster pieces, or the Burel in the north, or with Vanessa or finding materials which I know are there and are unique, so I would like to incorporate all of that in my work in the future.