Design sightings in Portugal: 1) Santos Design District

April 16, 2009


The first and most obvious sign of design in Lisbon, so a good one to start with in this series of daily posts on the snippets of good design caught in Lisbon this Easter.

On 6th Dec 2005 a chunk of the Santos area to the West of the city centre was rebranded the Santos Design District giving a united front to the the design stores which had been moving into the old industrial area since the 80s, local marketing and design agencies, and the nearly four thousand creative industry students at the IADE, UAL and ETIC.


The area is packed with design stores stocking classic design furniture (by names like Eames, Prouvé, Gehry and brands like Vitra and Herman Miller) and all the objects and books (Phaidon features heavily) that go with. Several have even joined together to create the SSD Smile Card, a common discount card and online store.

To name a few worth exploring: Paris-Sete (the driver behind the district according to Blue Design, a local design magazine), Domo, Ligne Roset and Steinwall. Start in this area.


So far, the district has helped to put Santos on the map as a hub for design and also organises events every few months, most recently to celebrate its third birthday, when shops stayed open late and offered special discounts. Good design has also trickled into the nightlife (from GoLisbon blog):


Following the new theme of the neighborhood, you’ll find places where the décor is just as interesting as the food. A favorite is Estado Liquido. Better known for it sushi, it also features a sleek minimalist space with some Asian touches, and it also doubles as a bar/lounge. If you’re not a fan of sushi and want to try something more local, head to Cop’3. It’s another tastefully designed space serving innovative versions of traditional Portuguese dishes. You’ll find it in Largo Vitorino Damasio, the same square where the bar Left is located. It’s a hip hangout that Wallpaper* magazine singled out for being “stylish and relaxed,” that’s also a great place for drinks to the sounds of the guest DJs.

This is what the main square looks like:



So what’s next? Gustavo Brito, founder of Paris-Sete, gave a few in his intereview with Blue Design: a “design lab” to incubate the experiments of the 4,000 local students, a “design shuttle bus” linking Lisbon’s art museums, free wi-fi in the area’s public spaces and a permanent space for a “design garage sale” of selected pieces.

It’s great to see a group of like minded individuals putting the infrastructure in place to help a community of designers and creatives thrive. It is not enough to be neighbours if you don’t also get to know each other.

Where else are similar associations happening?


One Response to “Design sightings in Portugal: 1) Santos Design District”

  1. […] the series of good designs noticed in Lisbon (after the Santos Design District yesterday), is the Cervejaria Trindade, essentially a beer hall in a convent. From Frommer’s […]

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