Fantastical Furniture with André Teoman
André Teoman's work is equal parts craft, whimsy, and gilded elegance. Creatively inspired by the world of fantasy, this Portuguese designer strives to stir user emotion and accompany each piece with a story. Outside of his studio, he has designed for Maison et Objet as well as several luxury brands including WEWOOD and Homara.
This week, I connected with Teoman to discover his journey from design student to studio designer.
In a few words, what is your design philosophy? What is your life philosophy?
I like to believe that my studio focuses not on innovation or technologies, but on creativity with an emotional approach. Never neglecting what we can achieve with contemporary techniques and processes that offer more value to the object itself or helping traditional techniques get a new approach. But if we try to compare my life philosophy with my design philosophy and to find where they cross, I believe we will discover there’s a lot in common. Thanks to the education inculcated by my mother, I always had a strong relationship with all creative fields, from puppetry, to photography, music or arts, among others. That provided me with a good background for what was ahead. I’m quite observant of my surroundings and always prone to be inspired by all kinds of elements and usually the result of my decisions, both in life and in my creative process, is the sum of all the experiences I’ve lived so far. I think that’s just human nature, we evolve with our life experiences and that reflects in what we do, both professionally and personally.
You’ve mentioned pursuing design from the age of 16. What steps did you take to begin working for luxury brands at 23 years old in 2012?
Yes, that true. At the age of 16 I came across a teacher that showed me, and my classmates, what the design process was all about and what we could do with it. I just fell in love with that idea, the design process itself and how to solve problems with this mindset. It was great to know that I could use creativity to make something beautiful and useful. The following steps were just the ones of a usual teenager in love with an idea. I enrolled in a Product Design course and during my University years, spent all the free time I had trying to better understand what to expect in the future and how to get better and better at doing what I loved. The interest in working with luxury brands was the result of a desire to learn with the industry and with all the production techniques involved. The kind of product made in this area also drew me to take that decision since I always valued telling stories with my products, making them conversational pieces for all kinds of places.
What inspired you to create your own design studio in 2015 and how did you do it?
I’m always looking forward to learn more and grow both as a person and as a professional. There came a time in my life where I felt I needed a new challenge to continue the “pursuit of happiness” so I decided to start my own studio. This way I knew I would have the chance to collaborate with different brand visions, techniques and cultures always giving it my twist while working on it.
Do you personally build all of your pieces or do you work with other artisans? How did you connect with them?
It’s rare for me to build a piece. Usually I work with local artisans and suppliers that practice a specific technique their whole life, becoming masters of their trade. I love learning with them and also to give them the chance to perfect my design in terms of production, if their insight really takes it to a new level. What can happen sometimes is the need to assemble parts from different suppliers, and mostly that’s all there is to it. The process of finding the right person is normally in a conversational way, where you learn about them from friends or by searching online, but in this case after you meet them, they will recommend you another person that might suggest you a different one and finally you find the perfect person for the job.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
Quite a tricky question, since it’s difficult for a day in my life to be exactly the same. Well it typically starts with taking my dog out for a walk, and ends exactly the same. The rest of the day really depends on the projects we are working on, what brands we are working with, what pieces we are preparing and what suppliers we need to visit or find. There are days where we are in front of our computers all day, others where we drive around all day, times when we stay at the suppliers or brand facilities or go to international fairs, and sometimes our day can even be spent in a coffee terrace only with our pens and papers. But that’s really subjective because, like I told you, we don’t have a really typical day in the studio, just yesterday we where in an abandoned factory testing a drone that we will use in a video. I just try to keep it fun, productive and instructional for the whole team.
Do you have any advice for young designers who would like to create their own design studio and create for other companies?
I would suggest them to first work with the industry, and really give it their best to learn how everything works and what the market is looking for. First things first, we need to understand what really makes us tick and work for someone that we identify with. That will give you the best professional experience you can ask for. After that if you love what you do, either working for someone or with your own studio will be challenging and exciting. And if you feel like you can bring something new that the market might be looking for and you don’t have the chance to do it where you are working, it might be a good time to start your own journey. Just never forget that you will no longer be just a product designer, you will have to manage all the creative fields and even the boring parts of accountant, logistics, etc...
What do you hope to accomplish this year?
At the studio everyone is really excited with 2017. We will be at Paris providing services for brands during the Maison et Objet and during Isaloni too, but we will also be there exhibiting, which is a great opportunity for us. It’s good to show that we don’t only provide creative products but also all kinds of creative services, from photo campaigns, to video, websites… all the aspects that a brand showcases. Besides that, we are working with several national and international brands that will launch in 2017 the products that we’ve been designing and we are really looking forward to share and see in the market.
Explore even more of Teoman's designs by visiting AndreTeoman.com