Lines Lab‘s creations are all decidedly ‘fusion design’: they mix influences from the West and the East, handcrafted materials alongside technology, a passion for utilitarian urban design as well as delicate fashion. With a totally contemporary orientation and a risk-taking attitude Lines Lab is a creative organization based both in Macau, China and Lisbon, Europe. Headed by Manuel Correia da Silva and Clara Brito, Lines Lab is a laboratory for the synthesis of creation and exploration. We caught up with one half of the pair, Manuel da Silva, to lift the lid on Macau’s most exciting creative laboratory.
Tell us a little about your background, how did you come to form Lines Lab in Macau?
Myself and Clara are both from Lisbon; we both graduated from the Fine Arts University of Lisbon as designers. We met there and began doing some independent projects together. In 2002 I decided to come to Macau as I had been coming here since I was young and thought it may be a good place to begin a design business, Clara joined me a little later.
This was a very interesting time for us. We took the time to understand Macau and what was happening in the region and how our business might work. Design is very particular in this city, design is not necessarily a well known world. The creative industry is now getting a lot more coverage than it used to be, and now the Government is supporting designers and design studios. But it is only in the last 4 or 5 years that there’s been a big increase.
Both in Macau and in the region of South China we began to understand the culture and trends. We sought out a sustainable process: from inspiration in our every day world, to our design process, to fabrication and how we would market our products. We spent this first period learning and exploring our design process, now we are putting it into action with our fusion design.
Can you tell our readers what stands behind Lines Lab?
Our background is in design, not in business. We wanted to create a free space that can explore different disciplines. We wanted an environment that is office, showroom, workshop all in one. We also wanted it to be feel inviting, so that members of the public felt they could come and be part of it. So a lab definitely fitted this concept as it suggests a place where we can experiment and try new things.
Lines relates to the lines in fashion design, but also the lines that you draw when designing. Lines are the place that the creative process starts. So the concept is that lines lab is a lab that supports creativity and fusion design.
How do you go from an idea to concrete realization?
We get inspired by the materials and the items we see around us. We see something that may be part of our city, for example the shape of our Miramics lamps really are part of the region and you see their plastic shape everywhere. Its something that catches the eyes and you see other people have worked and developed this aesthetic too. Then, it was great to go back to Portugal and have a real hands on experience and work with skilled craftsmen. So this contrast is something we find in our work. We like to see opposites being gathered together and celebrated in a product.
I think our design process can begin with this love of opposites and fusion. As for technology, as desigeners we love to see these come to life and guarantee we can make them. So choice of material is very important, how we can learn from them and how we can innovate and change the ways in which we use them.
What makes Lines Lab’s products so unique?
A relation with the Asian environment certainly. Not just Macau, but the Pearl River Delta; Hong Kong Zhuhai, Shenzhen. There’s a real mix of our latin European heritage along with our eyes looking and exploring an Asian future. What we see in the area and a contemporary view of it’s and our heritage. It is not something that is always totally obvious on the surface of our products but it is always there.
I think the environment of the event was really great. These curated hotel rooms became each designer’s own room, own space, very personal. So when the judges came round to your room, you engaged in a very close private way. I felt that the judges were very happy and very relaxed to engage with us. They spent time asking questions and getting to know us and what we do and why we do it, it was a much more in depth conversation not just based on the product and how its made.
I think this meant that the decision on the final three was something very coherent. There was a line of thinking in that they all cared about the emotion, the passion, the feelings of the designers and this was obvious in the designs. The judges liked something that the designer had had their hands on. The competition was very personal, relating to the products meant relating to the designer, and that is something that you don’t get with the mountain of products you encounter every day; the cold products that you see that don’t have a person behind the product.
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- If you want to know more about Lines Lab and their products, projects, and creations, come down to In bed With Designers at VVG Taipei from 8-12 October 2014. In bed With Designers is Asia’s first boutique designer sleepover connecting emerging visionary designers with passionate design lovers, media, and industry professionals and buyers in a relaxed and multi-sensory business and networking platform.