Wewood is a modern icon of Portuguese furniture, one of the country’s most successful industries. The pieces it crafts are made from the finest woods and coveted in over 50 countries.
The best woods, mostly solid oak and walnut, new technologies and traditional carpentry, and a lot of know-how. “In the factory, we have three or four generations of joiners. Often, it’s families where the father and son, uncle and nephew work together”: this is Wewood, located in the small town of Gandra, about 30 kilometres from Porto. Alongside neighbouring Paços de Ferreira, traditionally known as Portugal’s furniture capital, this place is dedicated to comfort and interior decoration. Wewood’s roots can be found in the Carlos Alfredo factory, which was founded in the 1960s. Full name: Wewood – Portuguese Joinery.
Head of the communication department, Hugo Ferro tells us all about it. The idea for the Wewood brand first occurred to CEO Salvador Gonzaga, son of the owner of Carlos Alfredo, in 2008, although the first presentation of its products only took place in 2012, at the important Salon Maison & Objet in Paris. The company is export focussed and sells to 54 countries, including France, the United Kingdom and the Benelux region, which are the company’s main markets, in addition to Australia and China (in 2018, 95% of production was exported). A belief that consumers need to see the quality of what they make, in addition to the online outlet, saw the company set up a showroom in one of the most traditional furniture spots in England, Heal’s, in London, where the main premium furniture brands are located.
Boasting an elegant and practical portfolio, Wewood concentrates on three key areas: aesthetics, practicality and durability, which is reflected in the design. “Our objective is for people to have fewer but better-quality pieces,” explains Hugo. “They’re not exactly cheap, but they last, and we want them to be timeless.”
Initially, Wewood was best known for making sideboards (their Scarpa model is iconic), before going on to create other well- -known pieces, like the X2 bookshelf, which “can be placed in various positions, due to its modular nature”, the Orca and Kundera chairs, “in solid wood”, and the Metis desk.
In a constantly innovative market, the company began introducing new items and now have a catalogue with around 50 products. The Corner tables and Carousel sideboard feature marble, while the Bowie sofa is Wewood’s first experience with upholstery. It was created as a tribute to the famous singer and reflects his “chameleonic nature”. The sofa fabrics can be changed, and it adapts to different environments, from the most discreet to the most extravagant. The sofa, together with the Caravela Lounge chairs and Bica table, have featured on the nine stages of the Web Summit in Lisbon since 2017.
Another of Wewood’s secrets is its partnerships with Portuguese and international designers, including Gonçalo Campos and the French-Portuguese Christophe de Sousa, the company’s ex and current director of design, respectively. The list of collaborators includes the Germans, Christian Haas and Tom Kelley, the New Zealander, Leonhard Pfeifer, and the most recent additions – the French Aurélien Barbry and Pierre Dubourg. All enhance the brand’s signature. There’s also the symbiosis with the WOHA architects collective (Singapore), who boast an impressive reputation in Asia (“they make giant skyscrapers with an environmental and social focus”). Despite not having experience in furniture design, together with Wewood, they created the Wohabeing brand and conjured up a quality hotel furniture collection in Portugal.
The company is also involved with Wecontract, which is geared towards hotel and restaurant projects, but with a difference. Having surpassed “the growing pains stage”, Wewood is increasingly interested in moving out of its comfort zone, welcoming more partnerships and ideas. The new catalogue will be presented this month in Paris, as will the table created in conjunction with the Italian studio Variaforma, involving a product designer and architect. They plan to expand the furniture range and combine it with other aspects, as well as consolidating the brand and opening showrooms in other European capitals. The main objective? Global reach.
by Manuel Simões
web design & development 262media.com