Mónica Pinto de Almeida

Good in Lighting Design.

About Mónica Pinto de Almeida

Mónica Pinto who was born in the north of Spain and spent most of her childhood between Spain and the north of Portugal now has her own studio in Sintra, Portugal. Mónica is driven by her passion where her memories are an integral part of her imagery and are nouns such as memory, history, poetry and shapes that build her own personal and daily universe. All the lighting pieces and objects created by Mónica follow a narrative of emotions and stories creating a uniqueness and timeless design where her artistic education mixed with her sensorial universe is translated into designs of conceptual and architectural language, poetic and innovative at the same time.

  • Winner of Lighting Design Award.
  • Specialized in Lighting Design.
  • Original Design.
  • Creative, Diligent and Innovative.
  • All Designs
  • Lighting
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Mondrian Lighting

Lighting Design

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Interview with Mónica Pinto de Almeida

Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
I was born in the north of Spain and spent most of my childhood between Spain and the north of Portugal. Having a multicultural family where Art in all its forms was always present since a very early age. So, when I started my academic studies, I fell in love with decorative Arts, the experience to work with raw materials such as natural pigments, plasters, canvas in different supports, like walls and ceilings gave me a new perception of volumes, a better understanding of the very nature of the materials and a new comprehension of the Art history and the endless search of the human being to be surrounded by beauty. I developed my studies in the areas of Frescoes, Trompe L'oeil, Decorative Painting, Restoration, XVI Hand-painted Tiles techniques, Drawing and Art history. After several years working in all these above areas, the interest and passion for Design appeared naturally, a new world where I was able to materialize the colors, the volumes, and the shapes that I have always worked in multidimensional pieces.
Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
I started my studio in 1996 with everything related to Frescoes, Decorative Painting, Restoration, and creation of new mural painting techniques. In 2014 the interest and passion for light and Design materialized under the brand MOKKI as a lighting and furniture design studio. The studio is based in Portugal, Lisbon, a city bordered by the Atlantic Ocean just as my birth city. These social and demographic characteristics bring a strength to the pieces, along with a natural melancholy of northern Portugal and Galicia. The pieces tell stories, and challenge shapes, the Mokki language is graphic, architectural, and colorful. All Mokki pieces or objects are created and manufactured in Portugal.
What is "design" for you?
Design for me is the translation of Art through a conscient thinking of everything which makes our environment more special and where “Each line is the beginning of a story”.
What kinds of works do you like designing most?
Having into account my background in Arts, chiaroscuro has always been studied in painting to create environments, emotions and stories. I fell in love without realizing, as always happens, with creating pieces, telling stories and giving them light. Lighting pieces might be the most challenging and passional to design, because without light there is no shadow, and without shadow there are no volumes, we need balance, the unknown, the dark and the light. I feel that every new design has to challenge us as a designer and as a human being.
What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
I have no favorite piece, each piece is unique for me, because it reflects a time, a moment in my history. I have many moments and many passions that are reflected in my creations.
What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
Usually my favorite materials are organics, but more and more I love to work with new materials other than organics and learn new possibilities and work techniques. Regarding platforms or technologies, I do not have a preference, it all comes down to what a design needs.
When do you feel the most creative?
I usually feel more creative when faced to a challenge or a need. The people, the clients and their needs, the desires, everything creates that state of mind where ideas begin to unfold on their own. It is not a conscious process, but inspiration and creativity come from all the things that arouse my interest at a certain moment, feelings, experiences, travelling, cultures,… All these are stored and are a part of my design thinking process.
What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
When I start a design in the paper, everything starts with a line, and every line has a story. Sometimes in the process of creation, which often is full of chaos inside the mind, full of sleepless nights, restless thinking, and an exhausting emotional process, after all of that, usually comes a moment of peace, where every thought and line comes together as one. And in that moment is when I realize and feel the story behind. And that story comes always with emotions, speaks through the piece/object/light, its truth.
What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
I usually feel a mix of peace, responsibility and an enormous curiosity about the response and the interaction with the public in general.
What makes a design successful?
For me a successful design is when you communicate with the user through the emotions, beauty and functionality of the same.
When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
I usually consider first the aesthetics but always along with their purpose and functionality.
From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
As designers we have to make life better, easier and more beautiful, always having in mind the whole manufacturing process, the materials we use and the impact they may have in our society and environment.
How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
I think the design field is evolving in finding new materials and ways of working and producing in a better way for our environment. The future of Design may be bringing us more to ourselves and to our true nature.
When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
My last exhibition was at LDF'2018 and Orgatec also in 2018. Taking into account the health problem existing this year with the covid'19 I hope next year I'll be able to attend new design exhibitions.
Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
The inspiration for my works comes essentially from everything, from a color, a book, a painting, an artist, a city, a journey, comes from my background, from the city where I was born, from the Atlantic ocean... The way to feeding creativity is by staying alive, being aware of who we are and where we are, and look around you, always.
How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
I like to say that my work changes and changes because it's natural, it's an expression of ourselves and our personal growth. I like to combine the human spirit with artisanal heritages, craftsmanship, new technologies and visions that may follow the MOKKI Philosophy. Art is for me the purest form of the humankind expression, where all the questions, doubts and restlessness of the soul and mind become matter.
Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
I live in Portugal, and the cultural heritage not always has an influence in my designs. However, it's natural that even unconsciously certain aspects influence me, cultural or artistic ones. The north of Spain, in particular Galicia, where I was born has a very enigmatic and melancholic aura, that I always carry with me in some way and nowadays living in Portugal, together with my family, I feel similarities between these two places that maintain a very special connection with traditions, with the sea, with the people... As living in a not very big country, we all know each other and maybe we can support each other more, but in terms of production I do think that our industry and manufacturing needs to be more rigorous in its production and look at Design with the excellence that it deserves and needs.
What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
Allow them to be creative, to have their own voice. Companies can select a good designer by looking at their body of work, understanding their philosophy, to see if their partnership will make sense and create a successful path.
Can you talk a little about your design process?
My design process starts with the idea, then translate that idea into something physical, drawings, sketches, color studies...later starts the 3D work on the computer to see everything, all the components functioning together. The next step is the production of a prototype where we have a better understanding of the piece, the things that are right and wrong, readjust every necessary step and finally starting the production of the same.
What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
The lighting items, chairs, mid-century design furniture, old pieces without a particular style but history and pieces of art.
Can you describe a day in your life?
There are so different days, the only thing that remains the same is my first cup of tea in the morning. Some days continue in a very busy way, others are spent in the factories, others I have meetings and others I work with my team and at the weekends I try to charge the creativity and be with my loved ones.
Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
Study a lot and learn a lot from the great designers, understand why things are so important, question everything, be humble and work hard.
From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
For me, the positive aspects are when I feel that the public relates to and loves my projects. The negatives may be that sometimes it is a long journey to be recognized but we should never stop.
What skills are most important for a designer?
Sensitivity, power of observation and the anticipation of a need.
Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
Pencils, notebooks, papers, watercolours, sketchup software, autocad, solidworks, books, art books, colors, paintings...
How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
Sometimes it can take a month, sometimes several months or even years.
What was your most important job experience?
Building up my own studio, first with the decorative arts and later with the creation of the brand MOKKI and the design studio.
Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
I develop the designs myself but then I work with my closest team and production team as well.
Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
I have several furniture pieces that are being studied now and some lighting features are in the concept stage.

Extended Interview with Mónica Pinto de Almeida

Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?
All my life was surrounded by Art in general, my family is multicultural, and always was very supportive in terms of education and leading me into a path that I could love and relate. My education was in Decorative Arts, Frescoes, Restoration, Drawing and Art History.
What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?
I become a designer in a very natural way, it was something organic. Everything motivates me to design, but specially the will to do something beautiful.
What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?
I mostly design lighting objects, there's something very magical in working with light. I hope to continue exploring light for many years.
What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?
I think they should work very hard and never give up of their style.
What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?
A really good design should be a combination of beauty and function.
What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?
Design is in everything we touch in our daily lives, a good design should be there to add something. Everyone should invest in good design in order to create a better enviroment for the human being and fulfill all our desires.
What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?
I love all my projects, I don't have a particular dream, just keep working maybe is my dream.
Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?
So many..., Jaime Hayon, Zaha Hadid, Kareem Rashid, Eames, Ini archibong, Corbusier, Jacobsen, Eileen Gray...
What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?
I love a particular desk from the Eames due to its simplicity and colors. I love the Egg chair by Jacobsen, the Theia lamp by Matthas Hahn, the furniture by Pierre Cardin.
What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?
Maybe my last, my suspension lamp Mondrian. I think is very well balanced in terms of volumes and colors, has a certain magnetism due to its colors.
How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?
Studying hard, never stopping to study, being up to date with trends, new materials, new manufacturing systems, and learning from the greats.
How do you define design, what is design for you?
Design for me is the translation of Art through a conscient thinking of everything which makes our environment more special.
What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?
The obstacles were mostly the financial support of everything that implies a work within Design and the excellence that I want to impose on my pieces
What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?
My next design project is a work in process of a new lighting piece made entirely in wood.
How does design help create a better society?
Whenever we improve one aspect of our daily life, even if it is only one, it will bring a global benefit to the whole society.
What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?
I am currently working on new furniture pieces and a very special new lighting piece
Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?
The ones that have given me the most satisfaction have always been the most challenging, both from a technical and conceptual point of view.
Where do you think the design field is headed next?
I think Design is moving towards more and more a human version of our needs and feelings
Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?
I think design creates trends, but sometimes it can be a bit of both.
What is the role of technology when you design?
Is very important, technology is there to help us and to make us evolve and elevate our design
Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?
Yes, I believe in co-design, but I don't know who would be the right partner for me.
Which people you interacted had the most influence on your design?
Clients, my personal relationships and people in the design field that I admire.
How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?
I feel humbled and with a lot of responsibility and always hoping to excel every day.
What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?
I don´t have a favour color, I love them all. My favorite place is definitely by the sea, preferably a warm place. Italian food and spanish are my favourite, with a good wine. My thing would be my imagination and I have many favorite brands, I cannot choose one!
Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?
I have many amusing memories, but perhaps the best are the laughs I sometimes have with my mother when we discuss a project or show her a design, we both have a great sense of humor and laugh a lot at ourselves.
What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?
it's always great on those days when it's pure creation and ideas flow. I usually motivate myself with my family and in nature.
What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?
I think the future can always surprise us, and I hope that human connections will be stronger and stronger.
Please tell us anything you wish your fans to know about you, your design and anything else?
I hope you know that what I design, I design with my heart and soul and that I don't know how to be any other way.

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