There’s a reason why Porto has become a shopping haven for those seeking out talented Portuguese artists and designers, they’re phenomenal at what they do. The Portuguese are not only passionate about their terra, but they use it to inspire their work in an organic, relaxed and charming Latin aesthetic, drawing from the rich visual vocabulary and broad palette of inspirational homegrown sources and subjects: think fado, azulejos (the ubiquitous ceramic tiles), Manueline architecture, ceramic roosters and Zé Povinho (the popular Portuguese everyman), just to name a few.
Today, we bring you another talented Portuguese artist and craftswoman who is not only building an incredible name for herself in Porto, but who has become Catavino’s go-to woman for phenomenal Portuguese stationary.
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Beija-Flor’s Top Design Insights about Portugal
- Beija-Flor is more than a boutique stationary shop, it’s a place to discover the heart of Portuguese design.
- In Portugal, a handmade notebook is a practice of mindfulness to help bring one’s ideas to life.
- From azulejos (porcelain tiles) to wildflowers, Portugal’s landscape is a powerful muse for artists and designers.
- Vida Portuguesa is a fantastic shop to find homemade Portuguese crafts in Porto.
- Barcelos is one of many towns in Portugal that boasts of unique, high-quality regional crafts.
- Take a private stationary workshop, or design your own custom stationary, with Beija-flor.
Who is Beija-Flor?
Although my name is Susana, I prefer to be called Su. Su was a name given to me by my dearest friends, which I found not only endearing, but sweet and very much me. I am the co-founder and current owner of Beija-flor, a custom design stationary store in downtown Porto.
In 2011, my friend Raquel Graça and I created our stationary business as an escape from our corporate jobs as designers. Glued to our computers within our cubicles, we craved a more creative existence where we could express ourselves freely, work manually and release our passion through paper. Hence, the business was born, a spontaneous decision that felt natural and right. And strangely enough, during one of our many brainstorming sessions to find our name, “hummingbird” suddenly came to mind. As a delicate, beautiful, and extremely excited bird, we not only fell deeply in love with the idea, but immediately saw parallels in our own vision.
Over the years, we redesigned patterns of azulejos (tiles), tested different techniques and materials, and finally produced notebooks. In 2014, when I took over the project, my goal was to make Beija-flor a diversified and innovative stationery brand. As I’m madly passionate about everything that involves paper – collecting envelopes, postcards, stationery blocks, notebooks, labels, etc from around the world – to have the opportunity to create my own collections with materials, themes and even with people who inspire me.
Why do you feel the notebook is such powerful part of the Portuguese fabric?
I’ve never noticed that before, but I think that’s a wonderful observation! I have no idea if it’s cultural, but for me, there isn’t a moment, a day, a project and / or an idea, that I plan without paper. This way of life is so ingrained that I even have a collection of diaries mounting at home, which I consider to be a very healthy practice. It allows me to free my mind, to reflect, and to make room for new thoughts and ideas. And who knows, maybe with luck, Beija-flor can potentially help others cultivate an equally positive practice in their own lives 🙂
What inspires your stationary design?
Simply walk the streets of Porto and take in the tiles, the colors, the feel of the city. Portuguese imagery is something that perpetually inspires me. Patterns, colors, illustration, typography and Portuguese techniques play an enormous part in my work. They give me the fountain and form for which everything is born. My custom orders are a testament to this vision. I strive to find the story behind the order, the true intention of the client, the source of the project. I want my designs to mirror their desires. Because by the end of the day, the real story that gives rise to a request is the story that’s told later in the product’s life cycle: the words, images, patterns, and voice that will be recorded within.
Where should people seek out the very best in Portuguese crafts in Porto?
I would say that A Vida Portuguesa is a fabulous spot to find Portuguese crafts. This store brings together a thoughtful selection of Portuguese brands that I both respect and use for inspiration.
If you had to choose one place in Portugal to seek out some of the most amazing craft art, where would you go and why?
The ceramics in Barcelos! In recent years, I’ve been avidly collecting the little figurines used during our Festival of Saint John. Similar in concept to the Christmas nativity scene, the figures are brightly colored, incredibly detailed and tell fabulous stories about Barcelos.
What else would you like us to share with our readers?
Apart from the product creation – whether it be the Beija-flor collections or the custom orders – my time has be well spent creating Beija-flor workshops. Admittedly, I had never considered the amount of positive feedback, inspiration or networking these workshops would provide me. Three years later, these workshops have been my pride and joy! The Beija-flor “Create your Notebook” workshop is not only creative and practical, but delves into serious craftsmanship. I host these workshops several times a year throughout Portugal. If you’d like to join a workshop, simply contact me through my website!
Fortunately, Beija-flor keeps developing and growing! That said, there are two collections that are near and dear to my heart: The Beija-flor Calendar and our Diary Collection. The Calendar allowed me to work with several illustrators that I admire; and from year to year, the end result has been different, yet equally inspiring. Check out our latest issues from 2018, 2017 and 2016. Our Diary Collection is a limited-edition collection of notebooks, illustrated by some of my favorite illustrators. These diaries are designed down to the finest detail for one sole purpose: to help you stop, look, feel and appreciate what’s directly in front of you. So often in our lives, we’re rushed to jot down ideas instead of taking care in each and every word we inscribe. Our words, ideas, emotions, and creations mean something! I wanted to honor this process by designing diaries that reflect as much meaning as our own personal intentions. Feel free to check out our first two editions by Mariana a Miserável and André Letria.