Creative Duos Part 3: Isac and Diogo - GRAUº Cerâmica

Next in our series of Creative Duos living and working in Lisbon, we talk to Isac and Diogo of GRAUº Cerâmica. Focusing on handcraft in its different forms, we hear from designers about collaborating in creative process and what sets Lisbon design scene apart.

Our friends at Morgado do Quintão, wine producers with a penchant for art and design, joined us on the journey, sharing with us their bottles of wine for the conversation.

How did you meet and when did you decide to start working together?


We were actually neighbors years and years ago, that's how we got to know each other and we didn't do ceramics at that point. Isac was working as an architect, I was working as a graphic designer. Then the pandemic hit and we decided to change our lives and do something more meaningful to us. Both of us worked with computers and ended up a lot of time working on a project that never came true - never became something physical. So working with slow design and actually producing a physical item was something that was important to us.


Yes, to slow down, have a different rhythm, create pieces that are not industrialized. You have a lot of the same things everywhere, so our idea is to create completely different pieces. Even when people ask for three of these pieces, each of them is going to be unique, because since it's completely handmade, we're going to leave a different fingerprint somewhere. So it's one of a kind pieces that we love to create.


"I think a lot of people started to look at Lisbon with different eyes. People are now associating Portuguese design with quality."


What makes Portugal a unique place for production?


I think a lot of people started to look at Lisbon with different eyes. People are now associating Portuguese design with quality. People say, “oh this is Portuguese?” - it’s a reflection of quality and creativity. Big brands produce their products here in Portugal and we have clients from Spain and France, calling us and saying, “you have amazing manufacturers there, your pieces are amazing”. Portugal is getting noticed on that field, so it's really good for us to have that feedback.


Do you prefer to work individually or in partnership?


I think it's better to work with someone because you can brainstorm and when one of us has low creativity let's say, there's always someone else, so we can kind of fall back on that energy. It’s been 4 years of the brand now, so I think we've gotten used to each other's vibes. Now we are having this challenge of how to scale everything and do more... And so that is giving us a new opportunity to clash, because it is a part of the process of having clashing ideas. But mainly it's not with each other actually, it's with a space that we have available here.


"The ceramic community here in Lisbon is very tight. So we share a lot. It's not one of those areas that you want to keep everything to yourself."


How do you spend your time here in Lisbon, when out of the studio?


Here in Lisbon, the amount of exhibits available are growing and growing. So, we love to go and see art shows and museums. We love to visit other designers, other ceramists. We sometimes have meetings there just to talk about the process and the struggles that we have together and sometimes it helps us to think about an alternative way.. In a way of solving common problems sometimes that we have.


The ceramic community here in Lisbon is very tight. So we share a lot. It's not one of those areas that you want to keep everything to yourself. Because working with ceramics, when it comes to handcraft, it's very easy to create a unique perspective, since it's handmade and with our own molds. And so you don't feel that exaggerated competition. It’s good to have this kind of support network of ceramists. We're very inspired by Lisboa and hope to stay here for many, many years.


"We allow ourselves much more to fail now. That's a beautiful part of having a child, suddenly you are like, well, I failed.. She's failing all the time and she's fine with this, why would we not be?"


What you are finding exciting about Lisbon right now and in particular design and creativity in Lisbon?


One of the things that we discovered this last year, is that there's an increasing community of designers that are actually in between the notions of artists and craftsmen, all working together to create more of a community. Especially here in Lisbon, everyone says that it's very tight-knit and that people actually want to see each other strive. So events like Lisbon Design Week, we are aiming to be part of because people are helping each other even with other ceramicists, we love this kind of sense of community.


Also bringing back some ancient techniques to design because here in Portugal we have lovely artists and cultural techniques. I think it's good for us to have some new pair of hands working with a fresh eye - creating more design choices and using those techniques but create something more… how can I say…?


I think we like this concept of blurring the lines between arts, craftsmanship and design, so having those unique pieces, I think it makes sense, especially here in Lisbon. In the past sometimes I think people kind of dismissed Lisbon in the European setting or didn't know much about it. So I think that Lisbon Design Week is going to do something about it.


Thank you to Diogo and Isac for the wonderful conversation on Lisbon creativity, and our friends at Morgado do Quintão for the wine shared.


And a final question or two to our friends Morgado Do Quintão - we're curious to know where does the affinity to art and design come from?

Morgado do Quintão's affinity for art and design is evident in our innovative approach to wine labeling and their support of the arts through an artist residency program which has welcomed 5 artists so far. This initiative is a tribute to the family's matriarch, Teresa Caldas de Vasconcellos, a visual artist and university professor, and aims to provide a creative space for artists to produce enduring works.

You feature artists on your labels, why? How do you choose the artists for each harvest?

Our labels are minimalist designs, inspired by the Algarve's natural beauty, from the vast ocean to the striped patterns of traditional vine arrangements and then everything goes up a notch when we either pick work from our mother’s portfolio or from the relationships we’ve built with the artists who stay in residence—it becomes deeply meaningful and purposeful.

Visit their site to explore more.