Julie, Michele e Lisbon by Design numa entrevista

Lisbon by Design e Lisbon Design Week arrancam esta semana

Leia a entrevista concedida pelas fundadoras Julie & Michele sobre Lisbon by Design, e os eventos que ocupam grande parte da semana que agora começa.


Julie Michele Lisbon by Design@credit Yves Callewaert


No decorrer do trabalho de valorização e promoção de produtos de marcas e artistas portugueses que temos vindo a realizar, é com muita satisfação e alegria que vemos novos eventos que apoiam a economia local e contribuem para um mundo melhor, a acontecer.  Todos sabemos que ao optarmos por produtos portugueses, estamos a reduzir a dependência de importações e a ajudar a fortalecer a indústria nacional, o que gera empregos e estimula a criatividade e inovação dentro do país. Contudo essa promoção ainda é escassa.

 Optar por marcas e artistas portugueses significa escolher produtos de materiais locais, muitas vezes a aproveitar desperdícios e com processos de produção nacionais, que se tornam cada vez mais sustentáveis. Reduzir a pegada ambiental associada ao transporte de produtos importados é uma forma de contribuir para a preservação do meio ambiente, e combater as mudanças climáticas.


Assim quisemos saber como e porquê duas amigas belgas se apaixonaram por Lisboa e decidiram valorizar a cultura e as tradições locais. Quisemos saber mais sobre a 3ª Edição da Lisbon by Design e Lisbon Design Week, e para isso entrevistamos as empreendedoras, amigas e fundadoras Julie de Halleux & Michele Fajtmann. Amavelmente, ambas nos concederam as suas respostas em palavras suas, e que transcrevemos na integra.


Hello Julie de Halleux.

And thank you for giving us this interview about the 3rd edition of Lisbon by Design!
What is LISBON BY DESIGN, how does it happen, why and for whom?
Lisbon by Design is an intimate fair promoting Portuguese made high end craft design. It focuses on designers who use traditional Portuguese materials and techniques and give them a contemporary character. It’s a five day event taking place at Palacio Gomes Freire on Lisbon from May 24 to 28. The objective is to show the relevance of traditional know how in contemporary design and connect these makers with the interior design, real estate and hospitality community.

How did you come up with the idea, and why did you decide to hold Lisbon By Design? I realized that there was an impressive number of creative craft designers in Portugal who were totally unknown from the large public. At the same time I was seeing an evolution in the interior design, luxury and hospitality world towards more authenticity and a revival of ancient manual know how. I created the fair to connect these designers with their natural audience and help them develop their activity.

        defio lisbon by design 1DEFIO

How did you discover and what is your background and relationship with Portugal? My connection with Portugal started more than 20 years ago when, returning from my honeymoon in Bora Bora, I was invited with my husband to spend a week at a friends countryside house near Lisbon. We so much enjoyed it that we came back quite often and ended up moving here 10 years ago. 

Since you’re not Portuguese, how did you start the project and what surprised you most about Portuguese craftsmanship and design? Making a project as a foreigner in Portugal is indeed not always easy. I first had to convince designers to participate, then looked for a place and sponsors to finance the fair…When I first came with the fair project I remember this discussion with a renown antique dealer in Lisbon . He told me “Julie if you don’t do this project someone else will do it” And this is how I started during the pandemic. And it is a new challenge every year as we change most participants to avoid repetition and give an opportunity to new talents.

Martinho Pita Martinho Pita Gota FioD Agua 1MARTINHO PITA

How did it go and what surprised you in the first editions of LISBON by DESIGN? Was there any adaptation for this 3rd edition? The first edition was a great success. There was so much enthusiasm both from participants as from the public that it encouraged me to continue the adventure. This year for the third edition, I partnered with Michèle Fajtmann (FromMyCity), another Belgian entrepreneurial woman like me, to launch the Lisbon Design Week. The idea is to spread the concept of Lisbon by Design by showing craft & design pieces in fifty different places across the city of Lisbon.

LiSBON DESIGN WEEK appears this year as a parallel and partner event. What are the main dynamics that will occur during this week, and what can’t we miss? The first edition will take place from 24 to 28 May in various neighbourhoods, It will feature around 50 venues with a range of events including special presentations, new collections, talks, masterclasses, open studios, guided tours and exhibitions. The idea is to showcase artistic and collectable design, high craftsmanship, and the intersection of design with the fields of art and creativity. The focus of this first edition is on objects made in Portugal. Participants include design studios and showrooms, established and emerging galleries, private venues, collective artisans and makers studios, hotels, clubs, cultural and artistic educational institutions, and urban installations.

What will Lisbon show that does not exist in other cities in the world? The program and different locations are all accessible on line. www.lisbondesignweek.pt.

mor lisbon by design 1


Hello Michele Fajtmann.

And thank you for giving us this interview about the Lisbon Design Week event! As organiser of this innovative event which is happening for the first time in Lisbon this month, we are looking forward to getting to know more details. What are the main goals of Lisbon Design Week, and what is the unique proposal it brings to the design scene in Lisbon? The main goal is to boost Lisbon’s creative sector and more particularly to reinforce the image of Lisbon as an unmissable place to visit for creativity, design and contemporary craft. The city of Lisbon already has various events that put creativity, culture and innovation at the forefront such as for example in the digital sector, but we think that it is important to include also an annual event focusing on physical objects, on design and contemporary craft. 

The idea is to create an unifying event celebrating design, revealing local creative talents, increasing the energy, positivity and visibility of all involved both locally and internationally.  Making a real impact as a platform by uplifting the energy of the city and of its community of artisans and designers. Lisbon will benefit from the influx of talents from other countries and from the relations they create with local makers and creatives. Also putting the audience in contact with the creative community and the design and craft content is also very important. 

We want also to stimulate new local and international collaborations and increase networking amongst all participants (retailers, artisans, artists, architects, galleries, educators, and public institutions such as museums…). When we will have more resources, the idea is also to commission new projects such as new collective installations on the public space.


Tosco Studio fotografias PM 4 TOSCO STUDIO

What can we expect in terms of activities and exhibitions during the event? Are there any special highlights you could mention? For this first edition, we have around 50 participating venues with a number even larger of designers, makers and artisans taking part of as some venues are showing several of them. Each of the venues has been asked to present something new or different during the event. Some are always making more efforts than others but most of them are putting a lot of efforts. The focus of this first edition is on objects made in Portugal. Our program is very eclectic, and we really advise visitors to follow the whole trail to say hello to all of our participants as each of them deserve all our attention. There will be a lot of ceramics in the program from various styles as it is a versatile medium with so many possible techniques and a lot of scope for experimentation. One of the highlights is the dialogue that we have created between some photos from the Novobanco photography collection and objects from various local designers.

What are the main inspirations behind the conception of Lisbon Design Week? Are there Belgian influences that can be identified in the programme? Not really. I (Michele, one of the cofounder) left Belgium more than 22 years ago and have been living in many countries including London for 16 years. My inspiration for the concept is more London based (London Design Festival, Clerckenwell Design Week…).  It is true that Brussels has developed an interesting design program as well, but this hasn’t really been a major influence for this first edition.

novo banco gallery GALERIA NOVO BANCO

How does Lisbon Design Week intend to promote the connection between designers, brands and the general public? Are there networking or collaboration opportunities that will be offered? Quite naturally as we try to create a sense of community between all the people involved. This first edition is a small edition, but we believe it is a starting point. We have already included some networking events and talks that will involve professionals such as the talk on responsible design at our sponsor’s gallery (Novobanco photography gallery) as well as a talk organized by CIEBA FBAUL on 4 generations of designers. The goal in the future is to stimulate collaborations. As far as the general public is concerned, most of our events are public so it is really aimed at allowing people to discover new venues and makers that they don’t know.

What are the expectations regarding the participation of design professionals and enthusiasts in Lisbon? How are you promoting the event and attracting the interested public? We are trying to combine the efforts of each of the participants with our own promotional efforts. We have no big team in place as it is a start up and a very low budget so we do almost everything ourselves. We are showing real authenticity with quick interviews of some participants on instagram. We are distributing maps and signage within the city and count also on the visitors coming specially to see ARCO to visit all of these locations.

How do you evaluate the importance of events like Lisbon Design Week to promote the growth and visibility of the creative industry in Lisbon? We believe it is essential. The market is only emerging. The potential is very big, and the momentum is there so we hope the success of this first small edition will entice many sponsors and institutional public and private partners to help us to professionalize it and bringing it to the next level i.e a real annual international event. 

paris sete lisbon by design 1     porventura lisbon by design


What do you hope visitors will take away with them after participating in the Lisbon Design Week? What are the main messages or experiences you want to transmit? They will realize that most of the places they will discover were unknown to them and they will return there again and again. The main message is really “together we are stronger.” We love seeing people preparing their venues, creating new things specially for the event, being stimulated by what the others are preparing, challenging themselves with new collaborations…because there are 5 days that will shed light on their amazing works. Passionate people want to share with new and existing audience, and this is the moment.

Thank you very much Julie de Halleux & Michele Fajtmann  for participating in this interview and sharing insights about Lisbon Design Week. We are excited to see the impact this event will have on the design, craft and industrial scene in Lisbon. We wish you and the whole team involved much success!


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