Arts & Artisans

Artist in Casa

After its founding by Portuguese Jesuits in the 1500's, for centuries Trancoso was largely forgotten, inhabited by only a small native population never topping 300 and shrinking steadily by the late 20th century.

It was hippies and artists who rediscovered Trancoso in the 1970's, many settling here, reenergising the tiny fishing village with their creativity and gaining an affectionate nickname from locals: biribandos.

The biribandos made great cultural contributions and helped form the preservation movement in Trancoso. Its in honor of this heritage that we created the UXUA Artist in Casa program. Artists from around the world live at UXUA while creating objects of their personal style and technical skill, but from local inspiration and materials.

Machteld Schouten

Machteld Schouten

Netherlands • Artist • February 2017

Machteld Schouten is a versatile Amsterdam-based artist who began her career 25 years ago as a fashion designer, the field she studied at prestigious Artez University of the Arts where she recently returned as a part-time professor to share her experiences. 

Arriving in Trancoso Machteld was fascinated by elements of nature and history influencing UXUA's latest project, Casa Wilbert, and combatting her fear of heights she took on a soaring wall to create a mural inspired by a 19th century watercolor of the Brazilian Amazon by German botanist and explorer Carl Freidrich Philipp von Martius. Using acrylic paint in green tones with a glow of pink, Machteld bought the biggest brush she could find and applied watercolor-like strokes achieving an open, sketch-like result.  

Melanie Dunea

Melanie Dunea

USA • Photographer • June 2016

NY photographer Melanie Dunea travels the world on assignment shooting some of the most powerful people in the public eye. Her work graces the pages of titles such as Vanity Fair, Time, The Guardian, Harpers Bazaar, and Vogue. 

Her wildly successful book publishing projects have been her recent passion after gaining critical acclaim for My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals in which Melanie poses a question to the world’s top chefs, “what would your final meal be?”

At UXUA Melanie's inspiration came from the sense of total freedom she identified as the dominant mood of Trancoso. Without limiting herself to a single theme she allowed curiosity to lead her. Among her eventual subjects are dramatic portraits of people she encountered – frequently staff of UXUA or artisans collaborating with designer Wilbert Das – as well as interior shots and still life fixing a keen eye on the textures of Bahia, and finally stunning images paying colorful homage to local culinary traditions.

See a few of Melanie's Trancoso photos in her contribution to UXUA Artist Canvases.

Antonio Riello

Antonio Riello

Italy • Artist • April 2016

UK-based artist Antonio Riello explains his works as hinting at the ambiguity of identity and society. Exploring techniques from painting, sculpture, photography, installation, apparel, even video games, irony is always present, as well as deep appreciation for craft, no surprise in a native son of Italy’s tradition-rich Veneto region.

At UXUA Antonio created AFTER ROSSEAU (LE DOUANIER), a deceptively simple installation of reclaimed wood. The work functions not only by calling attention to itself as an object, but also by celebrating and “framing” the spectacular surrounding Atlantic rainforest, recalling references – some authentic and some playful - of the Brazilian experience such as native Pataxó Indian graphics (which are in reality tire-tracks).

Peter Kempkens

Peter Kempkens

NETHERLANDS • Designer • April 2015

Before transitioning to interior and furniture design, Dutchman Peter Kempkens was an in-demand streetwear designer in Italy, creating ready-to-wear collections with distribution in markets from USA to Japan. The fantasy and imagination behind his fashion work is easily spotted in his contributions to UXUA, playful, and absolutely unpredictable lighting, tables, and chairs which emphasize recycling and abstract reinterpretations of handicrafts which have been produced for centuries in Trancoso.

Lucas Simões

Lucas Simões

Brazil • Artist • December 2014

Trained as both an architect and urbanist, Lucas Simões is an emerging name in the Brazilian arts scene, with works in major museums and galleries including the MAC-USP, the Itaú Cultural, Emma Thomas Gallery, and in 2015 an international solo show at London’s Space In Between (SIB) gallery.

While at UXUA Lucas took an original approach, composing three-dimensional pieces reproducing organic forms with industrial material influence, such as glass and cement. The result is trunks, wooden benches, folded papers, glasses and natural fiber surfaces that achieve new meanings, an encounter of the abstract and the architectural forms, which balance between beauty and strangeness, simple movement and depth.

Rodrigo Almeida

Rodrigo Almeida

Brazil • Designer • June 2014

Sao Paolo, Brazil based designer Rodrigo Almeida is absolutely authentic, adapting found – not sourced - raw materials which he adapts into furniture and décor in astoundingly creative ways which hint at Brazilian influences such as Tropicalism of the 1960’s. His growing desirability among collectors, galleries, and museums worldwide reflect has artistic approach – all works are executed in single-edition pieces.

During Rodrigo’s stay at UXUA he was inspired to create what he calls a Quadrado Collection, a set of exclusive objects inspired by Trancoso’s 500-year-old town square (the Quadrado) which was founded by Portuguese Jesuits, occupied for centuries by a small native population but largely forgotten by the world, and today preserved in a pristine, colonial style.

The materials used include pieces of old windows, fallen tree trunks, steel, rope and leather, assembled in a rough and unrefined manner, hinting at local architecture and the Quadrado itself, a place which seems suspended in time.

Marcanatonio Raimondi Malerba

Marcanatonio Raimondi Malerba

Italy • Designer • January 2014

The Italian Marcantonio Raimondi Malerba, a growing name in the furniture design world known for collaborations with leading Italian firms like Seletti and Mogg. His works are present in the most select furniture stores across the world.

The pieces Marcantonio created during his stay at UXUA epitomize his love of nature and organic materials, featuring installations of vases, planters, and lamps made using earth, tree limbs, and recycled ceramics.

Mauro Zolin

Mauro Zolin

Italy • Designer • December 2013

During his stay at UXUA Italian furniture-maker and interior designer Mauro Zolin’s rough industrial style was applied to local organic materials such as thatch - stuffed within unfinished metal rings to form lounge chairs. One of the most appreciated pieces among international design press (and Instagramed by celebrities such as Anderson Cooper), is a ‘Bahian Boom Box’, a Bose stereo speaker hidden within a wooden tree-trunk.

Mark Inglis

Mark Inglis

Ireland • DESIGNER • November 2013

Irish leather craftsman Mark Inglis produced a small collection of hand-carved pieces during his visit to UXUA. Using organic plant-dyes (provided by local Pataxó Indians) Mark created guest-books, menus, key-chains, even a spectacularly elaborate weight-belt for UXUA’s spa. The themes of the carving are local and largely based on nature; fish, tropical plants and birds, as well as aspects of local Bahian culture such as spicy home-cooking, capoeira (traditional Bahian martial-arts inspired dance), and forro dancing.