Have you ever visited Porto? For sure, you'd love its wine, history, and its unpretentious charm. And chances are you will find Ana Pina's jewellery there too. Her namesake brand is based in the picturesque Porto focusing on jewellery inspired by the ideas of abstraction, reductionism, and simplicity.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO DESIGN?
I always knew I was going to pursue arts, but I could never have imagined I was going to become a jeweller. This wasn’t so clear to me. My biggest passion, as I was growing up, was painting, but when the time came to choose the college course, my rational side spoke a bit louder and I went for architecture. Architecture always felt like an artistic area where I could mix creativity and reason, but the truth is that the architecture office doesn’t leave much room for creativity (especially when you work for someone else). I also got tired of sitting at a computer all day. So after a few years working at an architecture firm, I decided I wanted to live a more creative and fulfilling life. I wanted to create and get my hands dirty in the process, so I decided to challenge myself in a new creative field - a field in which I could create something of my own. That was when I discovered the wonderful world of jewellery.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE JEWELLERY INSTEAD OF YOUR PASSION - PAINTING?
My passion for drawing and painting has been there since my childhood. I was even selling my illustrations for a while before discovering jewellery, but I never really considered it as “work”. It was something that I loved to do and the fact that someone else was willing to pay for it was a bonus for me. My approach to jewellery was different. In jewellery, I found a creative world where I could combine both passion, art, and work. I’ve always loved jewellery as a consumer, but I never thought about the process behind the actual creation of a jewel. Around 2011, I discovered a course for beginners at a nearby jewellery school. I decided to take it just for fun, but soon I realised I would like to learn more and take it more seriously. That was when I left the architecture office I was working at to take the full professional jewellery course and learn the techniques that would allow me to design and produce the jewels myself.
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE NOW?
Days can be quite different, but some habits remain. I usually arrive at my atelier around 10 in the morning after a 10-minute walk from home. I spend most of my mornings at the computer, taking care of emails, social media, online shop, editing photographs, etc… After lunch I try to spend some time at the workbench, mostly fulfilling orders - I’d love to have more time to create new work, but it’s not that easy to find the time! Around 7 pm or later I leave the atelier and go home or take a gym class. Some days are spent taking care of errands like going to the post office, taking some pieces to be gold-plated, or when it’s a really good day I have a coffee or a glass of wine with a friend - after all that’s one of the advantages of being your own boss! On weekends I sometimes have workshops with guest jewellers in the atelier or an event such as the opening of an exhibition, which is a chance to promote jewellery and have some interaction with colleagues and the public as well.
WHAT PART OF THE PRODUCTION DO YOU ENJOY THE MOST? WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE THE MOST CHALLENGING?
I really enjoy the creative process as a whole; from the moment I have an idea and start to sketch, up until I handcraft the first final piece. Between these two phases there are lots of others, of course, and sometimes the pieces only acquire their final shape at the workbench stage through attempts and new ideas that appear along the way. This is the part I enjoy the most - the act of creating, feeling each idea being inspired by and developing from the previous one. The part I find the most challenging is probably the final step when I have to dedicate time to finishing the pieces - it’s a very time-consuming and repetitive process.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I feel inspired by lots of things I come across - music, a book, a movie, an artwork… but consciously or unconsciously architectural lines and geometry are always present in my work. They are the main source of inspiration.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE COLLECTION?
One of the collections that I was the most pleased to create was perhaps the Modular Collection. Its very first piece - a ring - originated from a collective thematic exhibition which was hosted by the Tincal Lab - the atelier I am responsible for. The initial idea was to create a piece inspired by architecture. Although this is a theme very dear to me, this was probably the only collection directly inspired by a particular building - Burgo Tower by Portuguese architect Souto de Moura. Of course, the initial ring has given rise to a series of other pieces from the Modular Collection. I love the strong geometry of the pieces and the idea that they can easily stand on their own or be combined with one another.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR YOUR LABEL IN THE FUTURE?
I would like to keep my brand growing in Portugal and internationally, making my jewellery available at different shops, launching new collections regularly, and working to maintain the brand personality and the characteristics of its limited production. At the moment I own a small atelier in the second floor of a beautiful downtown building in Porto, but I dream of taking it to the ground floor, combining both a workspace and a shop dedicated to my work and pieces by other jewellers I admire.
WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR JEWELLERY?
My background in architecture seems to influence my approach to jewellery in a particular manner, giving way to a minimalist style with a strong personality. My pieces can be both timeless and modern, with an urban contemporary feel. I love to play with articulations and the abstraction of shapes. As I think in term of collections rather than in individual pieces, there’s a sense of continuity in my work as if the individual pieces were letters or words formed together to create a larger block of text.
WHAT IS YOUR BRAND’S MOTTO?
Simplification. Abstraction. Articulation. Variation.
WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT EXCEPT JEWELLERY?
I love reading, watching movies and I love music - I always listen to something while I work.
Travelling is also a big passion of mine - I like getting to know new places and taking my time to take photographs of it,
even if it’s just a simple walk around my city.
WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT DESIGNERS IN PORTO, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE ITS DESIGN SCENE?
I love many things about Porto - its narrow historic streets and its modern architecture, the way it’s bathed by the river and the sea. It is an urban centre and yet it is still a small city where you can walk almost everywhere. I love its food, the wine, the growing culture… The design scene of Porto is growing too with a strong presence of independent brands and designers, shops, galleries, cafes, and restaurants. Designers feel inspired by their context, but have a clear individual approach, promoting interaction and diversity - we are still influenced by our traditions and a strong personality.
WHAT PLACES WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO DESIGN LOVERS IN PORTO?
You should visit Serralves and enjoy a walk there and also visit its museum and shop. If interested in Portuguese fashion and jewellery you can stop by scar-id shop or The Feeting Room, where you can not only admire beautiful shoes but also taste locally roasted coffee by The Coffee Room which is located there. If you love fashion and lifestyle you should also visit earlymade or Out to Lunch. There is also a great place for all illustration lovers - Ó Galeria in Miguel Bombarda. If you’re passionate about watches have a look at Spekti, and if you like genuine retro style don’t miss Coração Alecrim and A Vida Portuguesa.
WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON “SLOW FASHION”?
I believe that when you buy fast fashion you’re looking mainly at the price tag and you want to answer to the temporary fashion trend. When you choose pieces created by small independent designers you don’t just buy a simple object, but the story and concept behind it, you’re supporting local culture and selecting a piece that will last…
WHAT DOES MINIMALISM MEAN TO YOU?
As an architect, the repeated Mies van der Rohe's motto “less is more” means a lot to me. This originally stands for the action of stripping a building or an object of what is secondary, resulting in a simultaneously timeless and contemporary approach to any form. As a result, it means that "less" is also more difficult - to keep a design simple, rather than simplistic, and still functional and meaningful in all its individuality.