Emmanuel Babled is a top Product Designer who shares an amazing academic background in Milan, through his graduation in Industrial Design, at the European Institute of Design. He started as a designer in Paris but moved to Milan to create his own design studio in 1992, where he worked for 18 years, before moving to Lisbon in 2016. He has established many collaborations with Venini, Baccarat, Rosenthal, and many other recognized luxury brands.
How’s it working in Lisbon in comparison with Milan and Amsterdam?
EB: The work in Lisbon comparing it to another country like Italy, based on my experience, is still young, it’s only been three years I’m here. I will say that my method is still the same, immersion inside the craft and capacity. So, I don’t see so much difference in my attitude, it’s a long process to get to a country, and to get into a more deep aspect of knowledge and capacity of a country, I’m working on it.
Your work involves collaborations with Bulgari, Rosenthal and Baccarat. How would you describe the experience of working with such brands?
EB: You mention brands that have to have a defending knowledge such as Crystal or Baccarat. It’s always a big challenge because it’s working on both sides for a brand and with human capacity. And, I think it’s really exciting to work with these both hands in one activity.
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You’ve been working closely with the Murano Glass technique. What’s so attractive about it?
EB: Well, working with glass it’s the most incredible experience for a designer. Glass is a liquid in movement, and you have to design inside this movement. And this is something that never happens with other materials. I am nowadays developing new projects here with Vista Alegre and Atlantis to try to merge my experience of Italian glass with a Portuguese capacity.
One of Portugal’s biggest heritage is the ancient technique of Glass Work from Marinha Grande. Did you have the opportunity to work with the craftsmen from this region?
EB: I am starting now, a bit of scouting, thanks to Vista Alegre, and a company nearby in Alcobaça, Atlantis. So I’m starting to work with the masters of hand-blowing, we’re talking about free hand-blowing and being creative. It’s really exciting, I’m starting to be able to bring my experience from Murano, to mix it with a capacity of crystal of Atlantis, and find a new path, to create a new process possibility. I am afraid Marinha Grande will lose a lot of the art glass that we had in Murano, and I prefer to be more in the industry of Glass. But, I’m sure there’s a lot to do to restart this tradition.
Do you think that we can actually compare Marinha Grande with Murano regarding the Glass Work technique?
EB: I think we can compare the material, we can compare the attitude to be an artisan. We cannot compare the same situation in an island, in the Laguna, in Murano, from the 6th Century. 20,000 people work in the fortress, so concentrated on one island. You cannot already compare these two things, but of course, we’re talking about the same language, the same instrument and the same tools.
You created the project called “Third Floor”, can you explain it to us?
EB: Thank you for this question. So, the Third Floor is an effort I did with my office to create another floor, the Third Floor. It’s not my office but it’s a space where we can host different activities, connected to craft production and craft process. Craft is not only the tradition to watch out, but we can also use high technology. It’s about the handmade, it’s not a massification, it’s a specialization. So, inside the Third Floor, I try to create a place for change. Everyone is independent but everyone can exchange with the other, and I think that, nowadays, this sharing is so important. We are also in Portugal to make an effort in trying not to be afraid of our neighbour, our competitor. Walking hand in hand, to reach results.
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What do you think is the role of communication in both design and craftsmanship?
EB: The role of communication in craftsmanship is fundamental. Communication is many things, but it’s about relating authenticity, and when I talked about communication in the past conference I really think it’s important for the consumer to understand what he’s buying, because it’s not only an object, it’s a history of humankind. And this content cannot only be communicated with a static object, but it also has to be communicated relating how this object is born.