Celebrating: Carla Almeida, Design Director in Brand Union in Hong Kong.

How would you introduce yourself in five words?
A maker with a deep curiosity of the world and the people that live on it.

What do you prefer to do when it comes to design?
I enjoy having time to do a lot of research and experimentation. The iterative process of trial and error is really important to me; it influences directly the output and my sense of fulfilment at the same time. Within the entire creative process I love the moment of having a unique idea and reckoning the possibilities of bringing that same idea to life, either it’s a logo, a film or a book.

“…find a personal, and perhaps, more artistic expression in your life. Do it for fun. You’ll feel fuelled and energized, and it can be of great influence to your work.”

What is the best compliment your work has ever received?
“You kick ass.”

What designer do you most admire and why?
I have a huge respect and admiration for the Eames. What I like the most about them is the fact that, despite they are from the 20th century, they have predicted the way people would live in the 21st. I love that aspect of Design, and how we can change people’s lives by knowing in depth what makes us human.

What would your advice be to a young designer?
I would give two advices. First, have a mentor. I can’t stress enough about the importance of having a mentor or a hero along your career. This person is someone you can either look up for advice or guidance about creative process or it can be a great influence to the output of your work. If you don’t have that opportunity, leave your phone at home and go to a library. Fall in love with old masters like Malevich or Ikko Tanaka.
The second advice is to find a personal, and perhaps, more artistic expression in your life. Do it for fun. You’ll feel fuelled and energized, and it can be of great influence to your work.

Is there such a thing as Portuguese design?
We come from a legacy of wonderful designers like Sebastião Rodrigues or Carlos Rocha; they’ve made a remarkable impact in our society in specific times of our history. Nowadays, Portuguese Design is receiving a lot of recognition from the outside, perhaps as result of a sudden appreciation for Portuguese culture, in general, but also because we have extremely talented designers. Personally I would enjoy seeing us walking towards a more unique style — rooted in our culture and history — as a reflection of who we are and our place in the world.

Is there such a thing as Feminine design?
In respect to the creative process, I believe women bring a different contribution from men. It’s not better or worse, it’s different and necessary. Unfortunately, we still live in a time where Women are one of the most underappreciated resources on Earth, and while things are changing with Women gaining more power and impact on society, the statistics are still alarming. When it comes to the output, for me there is no such thing as Feminine design. I’m an equalist feminist, I believe we add value to the process because we are unique and as Women we see things through a different perspective.

What is it like being a woman in the design business?
Globally, the percentage of women leaders in the creative business is small. I believe that we, Women, start recognising the issue of gender inequality as soon as we grow into more senior positions. While Hong Kong comes from a very hierarchical and patriarchal society, so far I haven’t been experiencing gender inequality at my job.

“Personally I would enjoy seeing us walking towards a more unique style — rooted in our culture and history — as a reflection of who we are and our place in the world.”

Is the visibility of your work attached to a sense of achievement? Why?
The nature and output of our work is extremely public, whether is an ad campaign or a logotype, so much that it is our job to assure that it becomes highly visible in order to attain more equity. Therefore it’s intrinsic that we feel fulfilled and with a sense of achievement when our work gets noticed and recognized.

If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
Although all evidences suggest I was born to be a maker — like a cook or a sculptor — I’ve always been intrigued by the beauty of the Universe, and even, on an elementary level, by the physics of it. If I wasn’t a designer it’s quite likely I would be an astronomer.

If music was the food of love, what would you eat?
Breakfast — Shake your Rump by Beastie Boys.
Lunch — Shelter from the Storm by Bob Dylan
Afternoon Snack — Water no Get Enemy by Fela Kuti
Dinner — Bitches Brew by Miles Davis.
I could go on, I tend to eat a lot.

Where can we find you and your work?
I’m currently Design Director in Brand Union in Hong Kong. On Saturdays you’ll probably find me at Cheung Sha or Big Wave Beach and on Sundays you’ll find me doing ceramics in Wong Chuk Hang. My work can be seen at www.carlaalmeida.com

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