19 Jul 2021

mishmash creatives: Piino

Rita Botelho reminds us that a jewel has capacity to convey emotions and be a symbol of our memories. Just like the idea that was kept in the brand's name, Piino, a memory that dates back to the many handstands she did during her childhood.

Sometimes we get to know brands, but we know very little about who is behind them. Deep down, who is Rita?

I’m a Portuguese product designer and I’m 37 years old. I studied Equipment Design at Belas Artes in Lisbon and as soon I finished my degree, I entered in Fabrica in Treviso, which is a design studio from Benetton that received former students full of fresh ideas. As I started looking for jobs in the Portuguese market, the offer was pretty limited and competition was vast. Instead of starting to work right away, I then decided to apply for an International program that led me to travel all the way to Japan for one year doing an internship at a local studio in Kyoto which taught me perfectionism in attention to detail in my pieces. When I came back, I was entirely sure a Master’s degree would give me my path and so I applied at ECAL - École cantonale d'art de Lausanne, which is one of the best schools for Product Design in the world. That's where I also met my husband.

How did the desire to start the Piino come about?

After my Master degree, I came back to Portugal because I always loved my country. I always thought Portugal had great potential especially for artisans, which was something I was definitely passionate about. I came back to work at a jewellery company in Porto and I ended up loving re-thinking all of their collection. We were happy in Porto but Phillip wasn’t able to find a job here, unfortunately. We went to Frankfurt for five years before coming back for good, where we had our daughter. Coming back a second time gave me this feeling that I needed to do something for myself which was when I created Piino. Jewellery was already a passion of mine, the logistics weren’t crazy because pieces can be quite small, and everything seemed manageable. Piino was born in November 2019.

I always thought Portugal had great potential especially for artisans, which was something I was definitely passionate about.

Rita Botelho, Piino's Founder

We gathered you have lived outside Portugal for a long time. Do you think it encouraged you to start this project?

Definitely. I met different projects, different people, different cultures and that gave me experience in how to deal with different circumstances of life, including frustration because sometimes things just don’t work out well. Also, having lived in Germany I saw how tough it was to get things done there, and in contrast, how easy it felt to create my new brand in Portugal and that really set everything up for success. Cheaper prices, an easier process in general, really inspired me to come back and start developing Piino. I started right away! 

When did you realise you were a creative person? Can you link it with any moment in particular?

Sure. Since I was a little kid I am used to making things with my hands. My mother does knitting and we all call my father MacGyver because he is always fixing something. At every Christmas, we made all the gifts by hand which was a two-week frenzy to get all gifts ready in time. I think that’s one of the reasons I still love Christmas so much.

The Notebook 4 Tabs

Piino's favourites for scribbling down new pieces.

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At every Christmas, we made all the gifts by hand which was a two-week frenzy to get all gifts ready in time.

Rita Botelho, Piino's Founder

As artists, we feel that our processes are almost always more enriching than the final pieces. Can you talk a little bit about your work process?

The process’s what really makes me going every day and is what makes me grow. On this subject, I was really influenced by an exercise I developed at ECAL, which was to make a tool for moulding glass, not the glass piece itself. I always come back to this idea that focus on designing the production process in order to achieve unexpected final results that the industry is not able to provide. At Piino, in the beginning I was focused on improving each step of my process in order to improve the pieces’s quality or the design itself. I kept adapting things I saw online to my own technique always trying to make it better.

We know you have a deep connection with the beach and the sea. Are your ideas connected to being in those spaces?

I find this question very curious because it has happened that I say to people “I’m going to the beach” and they reply back “Enjoy, get some inspiration for new pieces”. The truth is that when I’m on the beach, I want to enjoy it and I don’t want to work. The beach references always came back to me in memories and old photos. Most of my strongest childhood memories are always related to Algarve and the time we spent during summer at the local beaches.

Easy Breezy

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Tell us about your workspace — Is it tidy or chaotic? What’s on your desk right now?

Usually things aren’t very tidy but at least for the space I’m using, it has to be perfectly neat and clean. When I work with white clay all my surfaces have to be without even a strand of hair otherwise I will have to start again. I have different working corners for different purposes, so depending on the step I’m taking next, the space can be chaotically organised. I can’t really think when my space is overwhelming me. 

Most of my strongest childhood memories are always related with Algarve and the time we spent during summer at the local beaches.

Rita Botelho, Piino's Founder

What is the importance of paper in your day-to-day? Do you begin with paper when you start a new piece?

I very rarely draw but all my projects start with paper. All my design pieces work on the premise of cutting and folding so that makes it really easy for paper mockups. Almost all Piino mock-ups are made on paper. Making moulds for the oven or just as a  cleaning board, paper is always been my essential tool. I also rarely draw because I’m a very 3D person, I tend to always think tridimensional. I need to have the piece in my hand, the tridimensional piece form so I can work its form. I make a piece, if I like it that’s great, if I don’t I can mix it all together again and make a new one just like plasticine. I write concepts and ideas, but I rarely draw on paper.

The Notebook 4 Tabs

Join Piino and choose your favourite among more than 100 references.

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