Forged by audacity and courage, two young men left for Boca do Lobo. Always the same and never the same, Amândio Pereira and Ricardo Magalhães, who tells us the story, took Portuguese design to the world. In the interpretation of Portugueseness, they gave birth to pieces, manufactured by talented hands, where indifference is impossible. From international fairs, they went to Hollywood films, and what was a daring dream came true.
Let’s go back in time and remember how the brand started.
What would become the Covet Group was born in 2003, and branded Boca do Lobo in 2007. But it all started with the friendship between me and Amândio Pereira since we were 11 years old, when we attended the old preparatory cycle; since then we studied together. Later, Amândio went to Milan to do his Erasmus and we met again in the last year of college. I graduated in Interior Design and he graduated in Product Design. Once, during a summer, we were challenged by a professor to do an interior project for the health sector. We accepted, it went well and for four years we developed this turnkey project aspect, managing teams, monitoring works and furniture production processes and also financial management. This gave us a lot of baggage.
Are they where they idealized to be? Was it because of the success of the pieces or the result of joint work?
It all starts with our will and the will with which we have always done everything. Over the years, we’ve been training teams so that they have our DNA. Today we have eleven brands within the group and the birth of each one relates to a period in which we decided to create a new brand per year. The Boca do Lobo brand was doing well, we had our structure, but we realized that this brand was just a proposal, albeit a fundamental one. We believed that the path we developed had to happen like this and now we realize that it makes perfect sense to have these brands.
In all of them there are products created in an artisanal way and with very own characteristics.
The manual aspect, craftsmanship, is the common denominator of all brands. There are more specific ones, such as Boca do Lobo, where we have all of our history and the reinterpretation of techniques that are almost impossible to find anymore. We try to give new life to these arts and new life to these specializations through our social responsibility, but it is almost inglorious, there is not much interest on the part of young people. If nothing is done, a very important asset will be lost.
How many artisans can your product pass through?
Many, even. One of the pieces we developed, the Soho sideboard, goes through twelve arts, completely different. We sometimes joke that if someone wanted to accept the challenge and make a copy, they could start with that piece; i wish you good luck.
Why did you move towards the luxury segment?
When the Boca do Lobo brand started, it required us to have a sustainable financial capacity, and at that time the situation in the country was not favorable; we started in a counter cycle, the bank was practically closed. We also assumed that we would not resort to borrowing. Therefore, what we did would have to be self-sustainable and what we would generate, in terms of cash flow, with the interior projects, would have to allow us a comfortable financial structure.
Were you already making pieces at the same time as you were creating these projects?
Yes, because we took over a small workshop owned by Amândio’s uncle that generated results due to the pieces we created for these healthcare spaces. At the same time, we carried out tests with pieces that we believed to be our reference and Boca do Lobo’s identity. At that time, we started by working five more classic pieces with a contemporary finish, without much audacity, and one more “out of the box”. We were testing and provoking market behavior. There was our vision and our beliefs, but it could be utopia. At that time, through the Centro Português de Design, we made our first international appearance. We always believed that internationalization would be our path.
You realized that there was room for your creativity and design.
Portugal had a history, but there was no courage to tell it and people weren’t interested in Portugal. Telling our History in pieces for decoration was almost absurd. For example, taking the Manueline style and giving it a contemporary edge or taking classic pieces, transforming them and adding value, with tiles, carvings or other details, was our goal. The proposals would have to be contemporary and with some provocation. And it was our brand. In the beginning, there were three collections, Soho, Coolors and then another, Limited Edition, because in London, we had fantastic feedback from the public regarding the Soho piece, which is provocative and editorial. Upon realizing this, we believed that, if we developed other pieces in the same creative register, pieces that fit into the Limited Edition collection might not result in business, but would result in visibility and notoriety. The truth is that we had a big surprise, we abandoned the more classic pieces and focused on the more daring and limited edition ones. Today, Boca do Lobo is known for its proposal, its challenge, its elegance and courage.
What is the most extraordinary piece you have made?
When we look back, we laugh at what we did and realize that only with a good dose of madness would it be possible for this to happen. But in terms of an iconic piece that left a mark on us, it is undoubtedly Soho. There is also Millionaire Gold, the piece we presented at our first fair in Milan. We produce the safe in 72 hours, non-stop day and night. We communicated to Milan that we were going to present Millionaire, we made a sales communication, two months in advance, we had a huge acceptance, a month later we were already on the cover of a magazine in Hong Kong. The piece has an incredible degree of difficulty, but, with the ability we have to make it happen, together with the designers and artisans, we manage to produce everything in time. The customer received the piece at home, we took it to the fair, where more sales took place, and this is what characterizes our DNA.
And they arrived at the cinema, for children and adults.
Several brands from our group have been regularly present on these stages. Some of our pieces are in the movie Tom and Jerry, released in 2021, it’s a comedy for all ages that mixes live-action with animation. Before, about thirty of our pieces decorated Christian Grey’s apartment, in the movie Fifty Shades of Grey. We were asked by Universal Pictures because we had a design that fit the bill. The producer had already questioned us from a distance, by email, to find out what our opening would be; here we didn’t know what the movie was. Even when the proposal was made official, there was secrecy and we didn’t communicate right away. But it was a very interesting experience.
What was it like going from young talent to successful entrepreneur?
We have a journey that we are proud of. With some vanity, we realize that we managed to influence and motivate others in Portugal, in the commitment and creation of a brand with added value. And I think our main flag is not just our path as a Boca do Lobo project, but what we represent and contribute to the growth of the national sector at an international level; there is a feeling of pride for what we have caused in the affirmation of Portuguese design.
What should anyone interested in your products do?
We favor direct contact. We adjust to the time zones of international markets and have a versatile team capable of responding to our customers in a personalized way. Our focus has always been very international; we grew up asserting ourselves in other countries and only later in Portugal. But, some time ago, we met António Sardinha, who represents us here and has helped to approach our public in the national market. All our partners and customers are important, but, in particular, António is our national ambassador. We neglected our market at first, but here we are with our proposals, our history and our challenges.