Woodwork: a secret of Portuguese craftsmanship

World Heritage
THURSDAY, december 22, 2022
In a perfect combination of knowledge and innovation, Portuguese Woodwork has conquered the world. From the hands of woodworkers, born pieces that tell stories, reveal feelings and convey a soul. Let's go on a journey through this Portuguese craftsmanship.

Woodwork: a secret of Portuguese craftsmanship

It is the art of transforming wood into unique pieces. It is one of the oldest techniques in the history of Humanity and Portuguese craftsmanship. It has been present since the first men of prehistory and has been able to reinvent itself like a phoenix reborn from the ashes... We are talking about Woodwork.

Along with stone, clay and animal parts, wood was one of the first materials that men worked with since always. In ancient Egypt, significant traces of Woodwork were found, such as chairs, benches, tables, beds and chests. Tombs represent an extensive collection of these artefacts, besides the inner coffins of wood found in the tombs. But wood was also crucial in Ancient Rome and China until nowadays. 

From the perfect carving of the wood to the exact cut of the design, the history of woodworking is an example of continuity evolution, a mix of wisdom and innovation that has conquered more and more fans.

Uchiwa chair production by Alma de Luce. Portugal 2022
Craftsman working on Uchiwa chair by Alma de Luce. Portugal 2022

Evolution of woodworking in Portugal

Let's go back centuries to when knowing hands worked the wood in the caravels that took adventurers across the sea to discover an unknown world. But in this ancient art, the past and tradition are not a burden. On the contrary.

The artisans are the base. Incredibly respectful of the materials and tools that allow them to work. Over the years, they are the figures who have preserved this Portuguese heritage. And their works construct the identity of a people, a community, and a society.

But nothing represents Woodwork better than the figure of the woodworker, who takes the mould, defines dimensions, cuts and trimmings. From his hands, combined with a designer's ideas, born pieces that convey soul, reveal feelings and tell stories. Those pieces create a decoration and, more than that, make a difference in people's lives. Mr Joaquim is an example of this, with over 50 years of woodworking. It is a life dedicated to studying, idealizing and producing wooden pieces, true works of art.

Mr Joaquim working with wood, Portugal 2022

For Mr Joaquim, this "contact with the elderly" when he was only 11 years old allowed him to discover the craft and internalize details. Learning an ancient art in which steps such as choosing wood, knowing how to treat and work it, and understanding the results that different woods provide are fundamental elements reveals this experienced woodworker.

These people inspire the development of ideas and concepts anchored in history and knowledge. Mr Joaquim says woodworking is "not an art of secrets" in Portugal. For him, the main secret lies in experience. A simple example? "The gavels. Nowadays, drawers are made with tacks and glue, and many people consider it enough. Then there are problems because it was decided to shorten the path". 

Therefore, keeping the secrets of the profession is unnecessary. It takes time to master the art, and this is an urgent need so that woodworking does not get lost in oblivion.

In the last decades, Woodwork has developed, conquering audiences, and transforming itself into a superior quality cluster in which craftsmanship and customer orientation are the main assets.

The quality of Portuguese artisans passed on from generation to generation is a heritage and, more than the weight of history, it is an unavoidable international factor of differentiation.

Goathi Coffee table prototype by Alma de Luce, Portugal 2018

What is the most valuable advantage of Portuguese Woodwork?

Its innovative design, careful production, guaranteed quality, exclusive customization, and personalization make it successful in the most demanding international markets. For example, in Portugal, furniture and related cluster exports increased by 6% in the first quarter of 2022, compared to 2021, to almost 500 million euros.

A new generation is boosting the know-how of the hands that worked the caravels. They are who can leverage and reinvent the best of tradition through a new look, new colours, shapes, functions, combinations of materials and a vital concern with social and environmental sustainability.

Do you want to take a journey through our wooden pieces? Here, some of Alma de Luce's interior design pieces show innovation and creativity in woodworking.

Prototype production of Goathi Coffee table for Alma de Luce, Portugal 2018

Woodwork, an art of tradition and innovation

In such a traditional art with ancestral bases, the combination of the technological and scientific sectors and the constant and continuous search for solutions that combine innovation, functionality, sustainability and comfort make the difference. They guarantee the Woodwork's success with the Made in Portugal seal.

The result? International recognition of this unique identity, whether for the exclusivity of the artisanal techniques, the quality and excellence of the materials used, or the inspiration in what is most Portuguese, with pieces that portray our history. The cabinet Espigueiro from ALMA DE LUCE's collection is a clear example: a piece that embodies the traditional Portuguese style in slats with wooden details that capture glimpses of irreverent and modern traits through their straight and clean lines. It is a wooden display that challenges and values ​​tradition.

"A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist."

Louis Nizer

If tradition is an inspiration and a hallmark of experience, the sobriety, class, elegance and excellence of contemporary design give Portuguese woodwork outstanding characteristics. They are unique, authentic, exclusive pieces that make a difference in interior design. It is through this challenge and constant appreciation of tradition, with a touch of modernity, that Woodwork has reinvented itself. 

For Mr Joaquim, "the biggest challenge today is to create unique pieces with the best solutions, working on small details and shapes". This experienced craftsman reveals his "digital print" through time, dedication to each piece, and the carpenter's spirit of personalization.

Bonsai Dining Table. Woodwork and marble by Alma de Luce. Portugal 2021

What is the future of woodworking?

If Made in Portugal is the guarantee of quality, authenticity and comfort, it is the look to the future that keeps Portuguese Woodwork in the lead. There is an increasing concern with the environment and sustainability, which is reflected in the way the pieces are designed and manufactured and in the relationship with the materials used for their production.

More and more brands are asserting themselves as examples of sustainability, with a vital concern regarding resource management, low energy consumption and the absence of toxic substances.

This concern with sustainability is also one of our bets, valuing natural raw materials that take us back to our origins. Of course, it always comes with a touch of innovation. Because there is always scope to do something new, create, innovate, and reinvent. This innovation is the spirit that characterizes us: to value a secret of Portuguese craftsmanship, giving it modernity and innovation. 

We give new life to materials and create luxurious and exclusive pieces that are handcrafted works of art that become design icons and, above all, make our customers fall in love. See here on Alma de Luce's Pinterest some inspirations that best suit your needs, your tastes or your client's desires. Once you're inspired, want some help getting started? Contact Alma de Luce that helps you achieve unique projects. 

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