Introducing: Tiago Sá da Costa

Tiago Sá da Costa’s ‘Corkmatters’ lamp series.

Portuguese designer Tiago Sá da Costa is on a quest to explore cork, a natural material widely produced in his home country. Apart from the 100 per cent recyclable material’s thermal and acoustic properties, Tiago explores its aesthetic qualities in his projects. The designer, who is based in the Netherlands, exhibited with Tutto Bene at Zona Tortona in Milan.

What was your first project?
A foldable cardboard lounge chair that could be dismantled into a package and be sent by post. This was designed during my first year of studies.

Where does your inspiration come from?
Mainly from nature, where the best designs can be found. Antonio Gaudi's work also has a great influence on my projects.

Describe your design process.
After the initial idea, I begin by sketching, or I jump straight into making small models with paper and other materials. I have a very hands-on process, so I need to materialize the idea as quick as possible to see if it works. As a result, most of my drawings end up staying only in my head without ever reaching paper. To improve each project, it’s very important to learn from the prototypes until the final design is reached.

What are you planning to do next?
Right now I’m mainly focusing on exploring cork to its full potential, not only for ecological reasons and empathy with the material, but as a challenge to work with it in ways that haven’t been done before, to help it achieve the status of a noble material. Cork is a very old material that has been used since Roman times, so it’s nice to see other possibilities that go beyond the material’s common usage. I mean, if NASA is using cork in its space shuttles, there are surely many other ways for us common mortals to explore it!

City of Residence Den Bosch, The Netherlands
Age 29
Education Equipment Design at Faculty of Fine Arts in Lisbon (FBAUL)
Motto As idealistic as it may sound: trying to design with a low pollution foot print
Favourite quote ‘I know that I know nothing’ Socrates
Best advice received Trust your instincts and follow through. And, assumption is the mother of all f*#% ups
Best tip for designers The world is getting filled with plastic and pollutant trash. If you’re going to create something new, try to have some environmental awareness
Three things every designer needs Intelligence, aesthetic sense and environmental concern
Newest addition to your studio A dust room (space for doing 'dirty work' like sanding)
First design that inspired you If I really think back to my origins as a designer: Legos

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