In 2015 André Marinho spent almost a week hanging about the London Monocle Café before he was finally given a chance to present his project. A few months later, it was Tyler Brule, the owner of the magazine himself, who contacted him to schedule a new meeting. At only 22, the Lobo Marinho founder and designer is a true example of talent and determination. We met at his atelier near the beaches in Foz, Porto, where he shared not only thoughts and memories but also the ambitions at the core of his surprising professional career.

© André Marinho

How did your passion for Design come to be?

It had a lot to do with my dad, who exposed me to different Design references, from magazines like Wallpaper to old Taschen books about early and mid- 2oth century design.   When I began my studies at Soares dos Reis Art School, it became quite clear to me that I wanted to pursue a creative career.

Was that when you decided to study Product Design?

Yes, I decided to study General Design at the Lisbon Architecture Faculty. Although the course focuses on Product Design, I also had the opportunity to explore Graphic Design. I believe they ‘feed off each other,’ and today my time is divided between the two areas. I find it boring to sit in front of the computer for too long; I love being around materials, going to workshops or hitting the road in search of artisans and suppliers.

© Lobo Marinho

You were still at University when you began ‘conceiving’ Lobo Marinho. How did the idea present itself?

It was a very organic process, and it all began while I was still in my first year. Initially, the brand was ‘thought’ by me and my friend Tomás Lobo, also a designer, hence the name. We wanted to create a brand that could escape industrialization and, therefore, we wanted it to have a manual element. That is when we thought about pocket squares. Because my grandmother had been working in the textile industry all her life, I realised she was the right person for the job. And that was that.

When you present the brand, you stress the authenticity, craftsmanship, cultural heritage and timelessness of each piece. All these elements have come together to create a unique language. How do you define your aesthetics?

As far as product design is concerned, my strongest influences are Scandinavian and Japanese design. They come mostly from the ‘good design movement’, from which I would highlight the work of Charles and Ray Eames. Sustainability is also quite important for me. And object construction/deconstruction are part of my creative process too. If we are talking about pocket squares, my aim has always been to deconstruct the stereotype that they should be worn in formal contexts only. Which is why at Lobo Marinho there are no basic or very sober pockets. Patterns are always illustrative, irreverent and colourful, so they can be worn every day, in a smart casual context.

© Lobo Marinho

Besides your online shop and sales points in Portugal, there is a limited edition of your pocket squares available at the Monocle shop. How did this collaboration come about?

When I was at the end of my first university year in Lisbon, a friend of mine was responsible for the catering at a Monocle event, where he met Tyler Brule, the owner of the magazine. Following this very successful ‘encounter’, he was invited to work at the Monocle Café in London. And I saw a window of opportunity there. At the time I was already developing the Lobo Marinho project, as well a whole concept I thought they would identify with. I prepared myself, and, in September 2015, I booked a week in London and flew in. I spent my days at the Monocle Café, which is next to the Monocle offices, trying to schedule a meeting. Finally, on the very last day, I managed to get the buyer to meet me and presented a proposal for a collaboration. They are known for investing in the work of young creative designers, and were, therefore, very receptive to the product as well as to the fact that it is produced in Portugal. Later on, they got in touch with me, and we ended up developing a first collaboration, a limited edition of cotton pocket squares.

When they celebrated their 1oth anniversary, Monocle decided to, once again, invest in your talent, with ‘The Magazine Rack’ piece.

Yes, following our first collaboration, Tyler Brule himself got in touch with me and invited me to meet them in London, this time at heir office. He had already visited my site and was struck by a magazine rack I had designed in my second year at university. When I arrived in London, I was met by a group of Japanese designers who redesigned the original piece with me, so that it would adapt to their language and could be part of the ten pieces that celebrated Monocle’s 10th anniversary.

© The Magazine Rack

Why did you choose to live and work in Porto?

After studying in Lisbon and following an exchange year in Santiago do Chile, I decided to go back home, back to my roots. And also because besides Lobo Marinho, I work alongside my father in the fashion brands representation and distribution company he owns, which has its office and showroom in Porto. I enjoy living here because of the quality of life and proximity to the sea. Porto is fast steadily becoming a good city to live in and to prosper. It boasts a wide cultural offer, places where you can listen to good music, enjoy a night out and eat well.

Where do you recommend doing in Porto?

We are spoiled for choice, but I would most definitely recommend a visit to Serralves Villa and Garden, Passeio Alegre, the view from the D. Luís Bridge and Passeio das Virtudes. Taberna de Santo António, Terraplana, Cantina 32, Tapabento and Salta ao Muro are my restaurants of choice. For a night out, Passos Manuel.