Entering the world of Valentim Quaresma is a whimsical experience reminiscent of some of the more cutting-edge accessory designers we’ve come to know and love. At times dark and at others quirky, this brilliant designer conjures up innovative pieces that force you to look deeper.
The Portugal-based designer, who as a boy had a passion for the trampoline and hoped to pursue a career in sports, first tested out his design skills creating accessories for a store at the age of 16. His passion for working with materials and experimenting with different techniques cemented his love of all things design and set him on his current career path. “When I was very young, I didn’t have many toys,” says Quaresma. “So I had to create my own. The ones I did have, I didn’t like, so I would disassemble them and create new ones.”
Unlike other designers, Quaresma concentrates solely on the piece he is creating rather than how it will be received and who will be wearing it. “During my creative process, I can’t think about whether or not each piece will be wearable because it is a barrier to my creation,” he says. It is once an item is complete that he even begins to consider its usability.
In each piece, Quaresma selects two thoughts or items that are mutually opposed and fuses them together, working with contrasting ideas rather than trends. The result is the perfect balance between hard and soft, good and bad, delicate and severe—his artful combinations of spider webs and roses for example, or the warrior mask made from delicate, jewel-incrusted flowers.
Like many artists, his inspiration is found in the items that surround him. “I have two ateliers with very distinct characteristics. One is an old building that used to be a factory. I use this location when I want to be isolated, build bigger scale pieces or experiment with new materials. The other is in the business centre of Lisbon, which I share with fifteen other artists. Here I work in a very stimulating and creative environment.”
Collaboration has always been a big part of Quaresma’s working life—his most influential partner of 21 years renowned Portuguese fashion designer, Ana Salazar. This experience has had a huge impact on his career and has challenged him to think even further outside the box. With Salazar, he is compelled to create items that will not only translate on the runway, but will also complement the overall aesthetic of a collection. “Ana and I have always had creative parallel universes due to references that we both love and this gave us a very tight creative concept,” he says.
There have been many monumental experiences throughout the course of Quaresma’s career including winning the prize for Accessories of the Year in the International Talent Support #7 Competition in 2008 and being invited to be a part of the official calendar for Moda Lisboa (Portuguese Fashion Week) this past February.
So what is it that sets a Quaresma creation apart? “My ability to focus, to filter all of the information that surrounds me and set out in search of what is important,” says the designer. And indeed there is much to be learned from this inspired individual. It might do us all some good to spend a bit of time in the magical world of Valentim Quaresma.