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by Marta Leite Castro

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The black pottery

Bisarro was born as a social-cultural project with a strong link to artisanal and creative roots in a period where the minor arts are more valuable. This project has its origins in the black neighbourhood of Bisalhães, valuing this art and their people.
The black pottery is an ancient tradition transmitted through generations of artisans that specialized in the production and commercialization of decorative and utilitarian items.

This pottery acquired, through times, a very strong cultural nature and today is considered an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. With this distinction, the Bisarro concept is based in the strong symbiosis between the different worlds of design and handicraft, from where we can have unique products and ideas.

1. How long it took to go from the idea to the implementation?            

We have a very young brand, its 3 years old. However, the idea sprout from the mind of its founder, Mr. Renato Rio Costa, in his time as a university student and with a deep background and experience in the world of pottery he decided to implement this project. Naturally, the implementation phase went through several steps of adaptation and evolution, stages that are not yet concluded since there are one of the main characters of Bisarro.

2. It is one of your goals to promote and boost the art of black pottery of Bisalhães?            

Currently, there are only four potters developing this art in the area and without great prospects to transmit it to new generations so, in this way, it is an art on the brink of extinction. It is something really important: we have an ancient art that it is in danger. It’s with this in mind that explains why Bisarro wants to revitalize the black pottery of Bisalhães, with the aim to elevate this art to new markets and to create new commercial opportunities while keeping its strong tradition.

3. But with a modernization view and with the aim to introduce new concepts?

When evolution is something natural in Design, it is obvious that new ideas are shared. However, we view this with caution because we are talking about of a cultural clash between two different ways to understand the product, on one side we have the Design elements such as in the industrial production, the trends and rules that need to be respected. On the other hand, we have the handicraft where each item is different, where knowledge is transmitted from one generation to the next one and enjoys a very deep creative and formal freedom.

4. How do you work collections? With how much frequency?

Bisarro designs always look a harmonious link between classic and modern, searching for new paths that improve and boost our
national Design. With that in mind, we try to combine our raw materials, the black pottery, with other national resources as cork, tinwork, and tannery, among others. New collections are conceived after a profound market research and of all the process needed to its production. Due to these irregularities in the market, we are not able to establish a time period between collections.

5. What is that motivates you in this project?

Bisarro is not only a Design studio. Bisarro is an ideology, a way to represent and to disclose to the world the assets made in the depths of Portugal. We are very proud to be able to do what we do in the land where we were born. And if we add to this the possibility to be part of the renaissance of this art that is a Human heritage, we are more motivated.

6. What are your ambitions for the future?

Nowadays it is indispensable to grow the brand commercially, creating the opportunities to give answers to the urgent needs of Bisalhães pottery. Afterward, we might extend this centenary art to other fields of Design.

How are the partners in this project?

Bisarro original idea, as a project focused in the black pottery of Bisalhães, was created by two Designers: Renato Rio Costa e Daniel Pera, with the latter exiting afterward.

Renato Rio Costa, a 26 years old Designer, was born in Vila Real and has an Industrial Design degree of the Beira Interior University and has a Graphics Design Master’s Degree in ESAD in Caldas da Rainha. He had the chance to work in two Design companies and most recently it worked in SPAL Porcelanas de Alcobaça, where he gathered valuable knowledge and experience in the world of pottery.

Micael Bacelar Pereira, a 22 years old Designer, was born in Vila Real and has a Industrial Design degree of Beira Interior University. After several contributions with Bisarro he embarked
with the project in a restructuring phase of the brand, contributing with his knowledge and own ideas of a new generation of Designers.

Transa Cooperativa Cultural, CRL
Centro Cultural Regional de Vila Real
Largo de São Pedro, 3
5000-651 Vila Real, Vila Real

Créditos fotografia: Lino Silva – O Revelador ©

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