Portugal's Finest

Design and Ceramics – 10 Names to never Forget – Part 1

Discover the Great Ceramic Designers and Brands in Portugal.

Portugal’s ceramic history is as long as the country itself given that Pottery is the material that has accompanied man the longest.

Clay’s ability to be molded when mixed in a correct proportion of water and to harden after burning allowed it to be used in the construction of houses, containers for domestic use and storage of food, wines, oils, perfumes, in construction of funeral urns and even as “paper” for writing.

From an utility purpose into a design one, it took nothing given its ability to be moulded and to create objects and art.

From this connection from the product and the final art, Qioske has selected 10 Designers and Brands that you should keep in mind, although many many others could be present here, as new names pop up everyday, and historic names that contributed for Portugal’s success in this field are by the dozens as well.

1 //
(Rafel Bordallo Pinheiro)

Meet the Father of our Perception.

Known today as one of the most famous and used ceramic brands of all times in Portugal, Bordallo Pinheiro was a real person and much more than a ceramic artist. He was indeed an artist, with a vast work that spread over tens of books and publications, a forerunner of the poster art in Portugal, a designer, a water-colourist, an illustrator, a decorator, a political and social caricaturist, a journalist, a ceramist and also a teacher. Its name is closely linked to the Portuguese caricature, to which it gave a great impulse, imparting to it a style of its own that brought it to a quality never achieved before. He is the author of the popular representation of Zé Povinho (one of the greatest Portuguese Caricatures of all times), that became a symbol of the Portuguese people, for the good and bad.

As a Brand with more than 150 Years, Bordallo Pinheiro has evolved but still keeps the original trace of its roots and the controversial images from Caldas da Rainha Pottery. Interpretation of vegetables and animals are amongst the most sold and used potteries in Portugal’s house holds.

Today, the brand keeps evolving and the old and new meet together to create unique and modern pieces, that are more than simple serving plates.

There are hundreds of references from this amazing Artist that some call the recent (XIX century) father of Portuguese Pottery Art, but we love the “Ze Povinho”, the Sardines, the Swallows and the replicates of Vegetables that are used as table ware.

Costa Nova is a small fishing village located by the Northern Atlantic Coast, mostly known for its wooden houses, painted in stripes, placed between the sea and the Ria, and it’s also the anchor name for a recently created stoneware brand.

Capturing the name, and also the tradition of great Mediterranean lifestyle and food sharing, COSTA NOVA was launched, with elegant design and quality, as a premium stoneware designing a production company.

After a few years this brand has managed to be recognised worldwide for the designing and creation of high quality tableware putting a twist on the classic serving plates one could find in Portugal.

Although it was born in 2006 today you can find it in over 40 countries, being present in many top restaurants around the world and also in 5 Star Hotels across the Globe. Most of the sales are still done abroad, showing the quality and design orientation of this Portuguese Brand that grew beyond the Portuguese Boarders even before most Portuguese actually heard about it.

Their Riviera Collection, by Christian Tortu, had it’s first presence at Maison and Object, in Paris early in 2018, and it’s something to die for.

Several Chefs, both national and international came to love it for it’s simple design lines, yet complex details that puts the food in the center of pure masterpieces.


Famous for its Beach in Portugal. For its ceramics around the World.


Irreverent Art

Vitor Reis was born in Angola in 1974 and moved to Portugal at an early age, where he still lives and works.

He descends from a family of traditional potters from Caldas da Rainha, a city known for its ceramic tradition. Since he attended the Art College and completed his Fine Arts degree, his artistic journey focused mainly on the sculpture discipline, but recently he discovered the potential of ceramics as a way of expression.

Coincidently or not, Vitor’s work captures a lot of the energy of that traditional ceramic that always overflows with ironic statements and criticism. Vitor Reis is now creating his ceramic work and research in a studio space sponsored by the Municipality of Caldas da Rainha, where he also develops a program of workshops with children, adults and other educational activities. He is exhibiting his ceramic work and taking part in events and interactive projects where the audience has a participatory engagement with the work, placing ceramics at the center of people’s lives.

“My work is part of all that surrounds me. I like to create contradictions, proposing new relationships, do something that surprises me. I also like jokes: light, heavy, long or quick…

Ceramics gives me an infinite of possibilities: I can act as an artist, as a designer, or craftsman, without having to commit to any of them. I can be all that and continually experiment – that’s what I like to do.

In each piece, I always try to give space of interpretation. I don’t believe there is a linear truth in representation, but I do believe that objects can get different meanings and connotations depending on the time and social sphere where they live and act. The pieces are created on the basis of total freedom.”, explains Vitor Reis.

We consider his work as mostly being art-forms that are also pretty much always out of the ordinary. It is hard to describe the usage of each of the objects that come from Vitor has we only see art in each of them, and want to put them in display at home, office or in an art gallery somewhere in the World.

If you want to explore and buy some of Vitor’s Art Pieces, do it here, at Qioske, but there are pieces mainly for exhibition that we also would like to share with, such as The Flying Brick, The Tentacle and the Shadow.

Founded in 1824, the Vista Alegre Porcelain Factory was the first industrial unit dedicated to producing porcelain in Portugal.

Over its long history, the Vista Alegre brand, which has always been intimately associated with Portuguese history and culture, has achieved unparalleled recognition and visibility.

Public recognition, perceived quality and the company’s investment in innovation and design have turned Vista Alegre into one of the very few Portuguese luxury brands to achieve iconic status on a worldwide level, and it’s by far one of Portugal’s most well known brands, and also most expensive ones in this sector.

For years, to have a Vista Alegre Porcelain at your house hold would be seen as a status icon, most people would care for generation and use only at very specific dates or when welcoming guests to their homes.

After a period of dormancy in the last decades, Vista Alegre was able to reinvent itself and reshaped the usage of ceramics, going much further than ever before.

Curiosity: Did you know Vista Alegre had over 40 changes or adaptations to their logo and brand identity, over the last 180 years. That’s Something worthy of stating in a Record Book for sure.

Today they invite both national and international designers to push their boundaries and the result is extraordinary.

Their unique features, allied to an indisputable quality, have placed Vista Alegre sets on the tables of some of the world’s most relevant figures, including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, His Majesty King Juan Carlos of Spain and Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, as well as at the White House, the Presidential House of Brazil, the Presidential House of the Portuguese Republic and countless embassies and institutions, both public and private, all over the world.

Design terms what the brand started doing over the last few years is worthy of recognition by Qioske and we believe their Lamps for example have become the very best we have seen for sometime from this Centenary Brand.

You’ll have to see in first hand their E2H Lamps, designed by Ross Lovegrove, to understand why we still love Vista Alegre so much. Or why their centrepieces are now state of the art, when you see RIO 450 by Angelo Venosa. From so many references we also fell in love for The Gárgulas da Torre do Tombo set, that is inspired by the sculpture work designed in 1990 by José Aurelio, upon an invitation by Arsénio Cordeiro, architect of the Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo [National Archive of Torre do Tombo], classified as a Public Interest Monument since 2012.

This brand managed to get over the years and reinvented itself without sacrificing on the good name, status and quality of it’s work.

….. ( To be Continued )


History in the Making

Stay tuned for other 3 Ceramics Brands and Designers in the next post, as we take you around Portugal's finest Product Designers and Brands...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *