I arrived into Luanda, Angola in the late morning after two plane rides on a 23-hour journey. It's the first day of summer here. Luanda has a golden light; you feel the rhythm of the music in the streets. I've been visiting the capital for the last 10 years and have seen it change, gain life and confidence in terms of culture, architecture and design. I love the people, sounds, rhythyms and urban ways of the city.
Angola's still a country with very big social and economic contrasts, but art and creativity have been prevailing. In fact, Luanda won the best art pavilion at the Venice Biennale two years ago. Here's one of my favourite shots by my childhood friend @arturcarvalho, showing that style is everywhere in the capital:
Day 2: Market-hopping and client visit
I woke up early and met my senior architect and office manager Joana. She knows what I like and had prepared a marathon of markets to visit in Luanda. One of them was the Benfica Market, a great place for woven baskets and masks.
The vibe I experienced in the markets was further proof that Luanda has an amazing energy. The more I go, the more I feel as though I'm contributing to a city that's evolving into a kind of cosmopolitan Miami of Africa. We then scouted for fabrics with an African edge for Gracinha Viterbo Head Couture. Along the way, we also scouted for interesting objects for my interior design projects.
Working till the evening, I went to one of my projects to finalise some details for it to be delivered that day. It's a beautiful residential project I've been working on for the last year and a half. I designed the space from its architecture to interiors.
The client's a Brazilian and Japanese globetrotting couple who trusted me 100% to balance her glamour and his quiet wisdom.
These stairs started out with this small scale model. The owners wanted a spectacular staircase that would give movement to a rather more geometric first floor.
Day 3: Showroom visits, catching up with colleagues and styling in the office
Another day at the office and showroom. Viterbo Interior Design has been in Angola for 10 years, and this office and showroom has been around for seven years. My biggest lesson having worked in Africa — notably Angola — is that the perception of colour varies from continent to continent, so I started mixing colours and patterns which I had never done before.
We started with team training and style talks. I also reviewed displays and followed up with my country office manager Joana.
My biggest reward in contributing to the countries I work at is the change of cultures, frame of minds, crafts and inspirations. I like to pass on the wisdom and expertise of my globetrotting mind, but I'm also a sponge — absorbing new inspirations from local young artists and designers.
For more of what inspires Gracinha Viterbo, check out her Turkish and Moroccan-inspired moodboard here.