ROCA OPEN CALL: Advice for Young Designers

Lisbon Design Week is inviting Young Designers (Portuguese or residing in Portugal) to exhibit their work at LDW24 in May. Find all the information on this Open Call and exhibition criteria in our Open Call application page. The application deadline is 31 March - apply today!

We spoke to Sam Baron about career turning points, his advice to young designers and why this is an opportunity to grab. 

Below is a transcript of parts of our conversation.
For the video klick here.

What is the most valuable piece of advice that you could give to recent graduates looking to break into the market?

Be true to yourself. Don't try to follow what is going on in social media. Make the difference and make sure that people recognize that you are the one behind it. Really focus on your identity, what you like, and don't follow trends. Make the trends. It's a big one, but if you make that happen, for sure you would survive in the design industry.

How can Portuguese designers grow in the national and international markets?

I think there is something interesting in Lisbon, in Portugal, on an international design level. First of all, it's a country that everybody is focused on for different reasons, for the eventual nice weather, for the beautiful lifestyle, and also for the, let's say, design culture - from very vernacular objects and simple, humble objects to something very special and elevated. But at the same time, there is also a big production capacity in this country, something that is quite unique in Europe. And in a way, there are lots of different elements that if you blend them together, could be a very good reason for a young designer to be established in Portugal, or for someone from abroad to come and discover what they can do in Portugal.

And at the same time, I think that the international market is really looking at what this country is going to be able to produce for the next decade. So make the design scene of Lisbon rock.I think it's good advice.

On Career turning points:

I think I've got two, and both of them are related to Lisbon. One was when I got here for the first time and I discovered porcelain making. And then I went back to my country and got a scholarship and I discovered a gallery and store which is called Fabrica, which was a showcase of pieces from young designers. And it was a little poster saying that they were looking for young talents. And if I was under 25 I was able to apply. So the day before my 26th I applied and then I spent one year in Italy in that research center and then I spent another 10 years in that research center as the head of design. So yeah, Lisbon is quite a point on the map in the design world, at least for myself.

And actually, you also entered into a young talent competition. Was that something that really propelled things?

Yeah, I think it's always great in the design career to risk and to propose yourself to any kind of new challenge, something which is also a way to measure yourself with your colleagues or with more experienced designers that are going to eventually see the show you are participating or listen to your lecture in a school or whatever is a good opportunity. Always kind of risk, show, make prototypes, make research, try and try again. And one day it's going to come from the sky and it's going to be your time.

What would you say makes a great exhibition piece for you?

I think that as an exhibition piece what would be really appreciated is to be a piece which is new in its shape, new in its concept and also showing the individuality of who is behind the piece. I think that in that exhibition what we are looking for is to show new talents, not just because they know how to do something, to produce something, prototype something, but also how they know how to express themselves and become the next remarkable new designer.

Our Young Design Generation Exhibition Open Call ends 31 March. Find all information and steps to apply here.

What would you say has been some of the biggest lessons in your career that you've learned a lot from?

One thing that I would recommend as a white hair designer for the young generation, to the young generation, is go for it, do it again and again. Think before, but then when it's time to do it, make it happen, show it, get feedback, learn from that, and it's all about experiences. I think life and design are just one main thing. Like any day in your life, you can get something out of it. Same thing with design projects. You just have to keep the ball rolling and be able to absorb basically what you can get from any project. It could be from the factory, it could be from the public, it could be from the price you will get for that project. I mean it could be the disaster that project has been. Anything is good, just keep learning and keep doing.

Why is this Open Call an exciting opportunity for young designers and why should they be grabbing it?

This Open Call for the Young Talents Lisbon Design Week exhibition is, I think, very unique because after the successful first year of Lisbon Design Week, people are waiting for the second year, so the public is really willing to discover new stuff, so be one of them. There is also the opportunity of showing that, yes, this one is on the international design map, and that starting from here you can go very far away. So go for it.

On the picture: Terracota Vase by Sam Baron for Maria Portugal Terracota. Discover more during LDW24.