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Designs that tell a Story | Tiago do Vale Arquitectos

Photography by Raquel Carneiro

Tiago, Architect by the University of Coimbra and Editor of Design Media Publishing’s “Urban Complex” book as well as the Senior Architect from the award winning firm - Tiago do Vale Arquitectos explains how his designs have unique human qualities and the meaning of having a narrative for every design idea.


Q: Why did you get into Interior Design?

A: I guess it’s a natural consequence of the architectural practice. We feel the domain of our action is around everything that contributes to the definition of the experience of a space -interior or exterior, a room or a territory- so it’s a continuum that also encompasses Interior Design.

Q: How did you start up your career?

A: My first experience was after finishing second year of architectural school: I spent my summer working at an office trying to finance a trip to India and study the Portuguese architectural heritage there. From there, study and practice became intertwined. Later, I worked with a teacher of mine before eventually opening my own office.

Q: Where does your inspiration come from?

A: Everything that has shape, structure, rhythm and complexity can be an inspiration, and it can be reflected on our design quite literally or, more frequently, hidden in our process.

Q: Can you tell us about a significant accomplishment or project that you regard as notable?

A: Our Three Cusps Chalet has had amazing and unexpected repercussions. It is a Archdaily’s Building of the Year winner, Architizer’s A+Awards and was distinguished in the American Architecture Prize, among many other honors.

Q: Where would you like to see your company in 5 years from now?

A: Continuing this path of growth and quality work.

Q: What project(s) are you working on at the moment?

A: We have many projects in our hands, right now, from large scale urban renewal projects, passing by medium scale tourist accommodations, to very small residential projects and everything in between.

Q: How do you think an Interior Designer should dress?

A: I don’t think there should be a real direct connection between how a person looks and it’s job.

Q: If you could design anything, what would it be?

A: Designing an Architecture School has been a dream of mine.

Q: What type of restaurant would you choose to go to for dinner?

A: I’m very fond of gastronomic experiences, but traditional comfort food is somewhere I’m always able to return to.

Q: Can you give us a statement about Design?

A: I always try to present it as a simple and understandable narrative.

Q: If you could describe your designs related to food, what would it be and why?

A: I feel my designs are very human, with human qualities, flows and complexities: translating it to flavours, I guess it means it would have a bit of everything, changing the recipe to fit each project’s circumstance.

Q: What do you think of the design trends in the future?

A: I think we’re going in the direction of a simpler, modest, economic life, with minimal aesthetics, but we’ll combine it with details, textures, patterns, that will give design a human and humanizing scale, familiarity, comfort. We’ll be more in tune with vernacular wisdom instead of trying to reinvent the wheel every time we pick up a pen.

Q: Who is your favourite Designer and why?

A: I could never reduce the list to a single name - we see so many brilliant minds in practice today and in history. If I had to pinpoint a single influence I’d probably elect the anonymous empiric designers that brought us, though centuries of dialogue and refinements, our vernacular gems.

Q: In which country would you like to have your project in?

A: Portugal is a great country for quality architecture, for many obvious reasons.

Q: What element of a design is the most important thing to you?

A: I can’t go around this pair: natural light and scale, for sure. You can’t really produce anything of merit without mastering those two first.

Q: What is your favourite cocktail?

A: Port, neat.

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