Madalena Martins: a creative head

Madalena Martins: a creative head

After completing a design and communication degree at Porto’s Faculdade de Belas Artes, Madalena Martins decided to remain in the city. Her first job involved combining Portuguese culture with contemporary design and, coincidence or not, this is what she decided she wanted to do in the future.

«I did various conventional graphic design projects for different clients, until I realised that my focus was to reinvent our culture, all that day-to-day stuff, to breathe new life into it, in a new format.»

1 / 2
Madalena Martins no seu estúdio
2 / 2
Today, she divides her time between different projects that get her out of the studio, a smile forever on her face.
She works with a huge range of materials and is always in contact with the production part of the process. She works closely with artisans, small Portuguese factories, workshops and prisons.

«Ever since I started working in prisons, I’ve discovered another side to things – the social aspect. Realising that my work could contribute to improving people’s lives a little, makes the project more important and humanises the objects.»

Her story with Esporão also involves a social aspect.

«Talking to Eduardo Aires, from White Studio, and Esporão’s former marketing director, Filipe Caetano, we spoke about working together. At the time, they really liked my cadernos-escama (scaly notebooks), which were made by inmates, and they challenged me to adapt the concept for Esporão.»

Soon after, there was an order for the Esporão 2015 diary cover. Madalena visited Herdade do Esporão to redesign the concept to suit the Esporão identity.

«I went to see Herdade do Esporão and their production surplus. Then I redesigned the concept to suit Esporão’s identity, with the traditional Alentejo blanket pattern. We did a limited edition, where each diary was unique and physically reflected wine labels, wine tourism menus, discontinued graphic objects that were part of the brand’s history. It’s nice to think that, in addition to re-using Esporão’s surplus material, I also extended the life of graphic design created by other designers, in this case, White Studio. Other people’s design ends up being my raw material.»

Esporão’s Planner 2015
There was continuity with a new look for pencils “dressed” in wine labels, notebooks, mats, pencils holders made entirely from paper, cabeçudos (papier machê heads) and other new things yet to come.
«This great collaboration is a mix of values: ESPORÃO’s identity + DESIGN + social and environmental responsibility.»
One of the new features of the Big Day 2017 was the children’s area. As fans of Madalena’s work, we challenged her to design a place for kids.

«I’ve always wanted to participate in the Big Day, and this year, finally, it was possible. I really wanted to have a more creative presence and when I was talking to a friend, he thought that it would be fun to make a kind of ‘piñata’. We laughed and I thought about the idea and how it would be interesting to make it out of waste, with toys inside, also thinking about reusing materials from the Herdade, and that this could be done in a workshop. I talked about my idea and everyone loved it and challenged me to do something bigger for the children’s area. Thinking about the canopy, the papier machê heads, the workshop, while including Portuguese traditions, which is my trademark. I mixed my world with Esporão’s and created a canopy with paper flowers, transporting us to the Flower Festival, and another one with flags made from scraps of Esporão labels. Finally, the children’s workshops, where everyone constructed their papier machê head, once again, combining graphic materials from Esporão with the children’s fresh and hilarious imagination. It was great.»

With a short deadline and her usual perfectionism, the preparations were intense and split among various people.

«I put my heart and soul into it, so that the result would be how I imagined it. First, I shared work among prisons. The inmates of the Viana do Castelo Prison made the incredible montage of 6,000 paper flowers. Those from Paços de Ferreira did the flags made of labels and some of the toys. While, the GAF Workshops were already doing the 40 cabeçudos for the workshops and then a lot of studio work. I’ve done many cabeçudos but never for a ‘piñata’, it was interesting to create. With the help of a friend, we made 300 toys. Always in different locations, but it was a great team effort.»

One week before the Big Day, with all the materials ready, Madalena moved lock, stock and barrel to Herdade do Esporão.

1 / 2
2 / 2
«They were wonderful days, despite all the hard work. Getting to know the Herdade, the people. It’s very rewarding when you finally put the design into practice and everything works out right. It was very important to get to know Herdade do Esporão. It’s crucial to get a feel for places to create for them. At the Herdade, we feel real tranquillity and harmony – nature, the materials, the flavours, aromas, the architecture, the design. And we realise that this harmony also exists because of the people. It was a lovely experience, until the very last minute. It was a Big Week.»

A big week that only ended at the end of the party. It was months of preparation that resulted in an inspiring place for children to play, learn and be creative. During the Big Day, Madalena was involved in the workshops and activities with the children and her expectations were met.

1 / 5
2 / 5
3 / 5
4 / 5
5 / 5
«I was a little anxious because this was my first experience with children, but when I saw kids running, trying to get a cabeçudo, to make sure they could make one, I was really chuffed. It was so creative and fun, even did I expected so much. And all the feedback I got was very good, I felt that people (not just the kids) liked and enjoyed the space. Before the Big Day happened, I had the feeling that I was going to an enchanted place that was real at the same time. And it was. Thank you all.»

Thank you, Madalena.