Interview with Carlos Mendonça and Alzira Peixoto
Simple shapes and top grade materials
Simple Forms Design was set up by the designers from Porto, Carlos Mendonça and Alzira Peixoto, who decided to set up their own brand in 2004 after designing and working for other companies. It uses national companies and products for production, and cork and the companies of the sector are an example, but the focus is on export.
“Design, innovation, functionality and quality are guiding vectors for the development of each collection and each new product,” state the designers. The company has managed to combine the past and the future, craftsmanship and the latest technology, tradition and innovative design, resulting in unique creations capable of making the difference in each environment they inhabit.
They created the BATH collection in 2000, before they had set up Simple Forms Design. This collection was then incorporated from 2004 in the current company. BATH is an original and innovative line of design objects for the bath area: stainless steel accessories, wooden and stainless steel soap dishes and boxes and natural brushes.
It is the CORK collection that first appeared in 2004 that associates these designers with cork. This collection, following the philosophy of using materials traditionally produced in Portugal in products with innovative and bold design, is composed of cork objects for the bath area: hand basins, soap dishes, cups and mats. Two types of cork are used: pure agglomerated cork and a mixture of cork and rubber, both with a finish that provides all the protection and strength required for normal use.
Accordingly, and in keeping with its objective to move through the various areas of the home, Simple Forms Design now presents a new collection, PORCELAIN, which is most directed towards the table. “What particularly inspired us was the combination of very opposite materials such as porcelain and cork and the act of being at the table, the pleasure of tasting food,” says Alzira Peixoto. Lastly, the HOME collection is a line of furniture. It encompasses various models and sizes that match each other, reaching a versatility that allows them to occupy the various areas of the home.
“Cork is like a brand image for Portugal, but we are the country that places the least value on cork. Here, when cork is mentioned people think of cork stoppers, but it is a noble material, ” explains Carlos Mendonça. “You won’t find any item or material like ours in the market. If you like it, you always will; if you want it, buy it; and if you buy, it will have to be that of Simple Forms Design, because there is no equal anywhere,” adds Alzira Peixoto. Carlos and Alzira are nowadays known as the “cork designers” due to their Cork collection. They also won the Red Dot Design Award, in 2008, with this collection. “A Red Dot Award is basically a certificate of quality in the design market,” says Alzira Peixoto. “Today cork is talked about a lot in Portugal, but in 2004 we were already presenting items and we had already realized how great it is to work with this material,” highlights Carlos Mendonça.
And they also add: “we want cork to be distinguished for its aesthetic and technical components. We don’t want to make the same things, we want to do differently because only the different will endure beyond what is fashion.”
The economic crisis in Europe has, of course, restricted Simple Forms Design, since this continent was its principal market. But the company has not given up and it has already sought new avenues. It is now focused on emerging markets, especially in Asia (Japan, for example) and the USA. “What we produce is a value added product and this type of market recognises such a product.”