{the interview series} Noussnouss

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Hoje trago-vos mais uma artista portuguesa: Alice Bernardo, a mente criativa que encontra na marca Noussnouss a sua forma de expressão. Mas Alice não se limita a celebrar a beleza e feminilidade da mulher através de belos acessórios em tecido... ela também nos deslumbra com as fotos do seu blog e nos surpreende com o novo projecto Saber Fazer - uma forma de recuperar técnicas tradicionais através da sua documentação, para que continuem a ser valorizadas pelas gerações futuras.
Fiquem a saber isto e muito mais ao longo desta inspiradora entrevista!

Não se esqueçam de seguir {the interview series} no facebook e de reler todas as entrevistas aqui.
(Por motivos óbvios de extensão e compreensão do texto, tanto pelos entrevistados como pelos potenciais leitores do resto do mundo, a entrevista segue em inglês.)

Today I bring you another Portuguese artist: Alice Bernardo, the creative mind that finds in the brand Noussnouss her form of expression. But Alice doesn't limit herself to celebrate women's beauty and femininity through beautiful fabric accessories... She also dazzles us with the photos of her blog and surprises us with the new project Saber Fazer - a way to recover traditional techniques through its documentation, so they continue to be valued by future generations. You'll get to know this and much more throughout this inspiring interview!

Don't forget to follow {the interview series} on facebook and to read all the previous interviews here.

Alice Bernardo | Noussnouss
Guimarães, Portugal
site | blog | shop | Saber Fazer: site | blog

1. Let’s pretend we don’t know each other and I’ve never heard about Alice Bernardo. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hello, my name is Alice.
I was going to be an architect, but then I started to make things, and now I want to discover how other things are made and document that through beautiful photos and videos.

2. You work mainly with fabrics, creating delicate and feminine pieces, but your academic background is related to architecture, right? How was this creative passion born and what was the journey that brought you here?
Yes, I have a degree in architecture, and I think the training I received has a major influence in everything I do.
At one point I felt like I had to start making something with my own hands – it’s empowering, you know? – and then all of this came slowly to be.
Women in general are a big inspiration. I love the feminine side of life, and I really enjoy dressing up the female body.

3. noussnouss is the cute name of your brand. When was this brand launched and why is it called like that?
“Noussnouss” is actually a Moroccan expression meaning “more or less”, “comme ci, comme ça” and also “café au lait”.
It’s used when something is in the middle or is a mixture – half of this, half of that. I learned it in the months I spent in Morocco when my father worked there, and thought it was perfect to name something that I still don’t know what it is about!
I don’t know when the brand was created, things happened naturally and the name I use is always the same, although the essence of my work has changed so much.

4. Your creations include beautiful neckwarmers, bags and more recently neckties. How are these pieces born? How do you pick the materials you use? Would you share your creative process with us?
I’m very intuitive. The idea can come from wanting to make something for me, for a friend or for an occasion. Sometimes I find inspiration in a material, like when I found the perfect cashmere wool to make the neckwarmers.

5. I must say that I especially love your neckwarmers! They are so gorgeous that it’s hard for me to pick only one! Can I ask you what’s your favorite piece and what’s been your best seller until now?
My favourite neckwarmer is definitely the Magnolia. It’s made of pleated original Japanese kimono silk and Italian wool mixed with cashmere. It’s as soft and feminine as it gets and there’s no arguing about the quality of the materials. I absolutely love it and it embodies many of the characteristics I’m aiming for in my work.
I don’t think I have a best seller because it changes every year. One year people want to buy the all black wool pleated neckwarmer, and the next it’s all about the bright yellow silky one. I can’t understand that phenomena yet!

6. You have your creations for sale in different cities and through your online shop they can travel all around the world. What means do you use to promote your work?
I use mainly the internet. I’m a bit silent when it comes to self promotion, but in key moments the fan base I have been building comes out and that makes me feel really happy. I guess they are just like me, discreet but faithful.
But I have to admit that promotion is not my strong suit. I just don’t like to do it and I realize this is one of the points I need to work on.
I’m getting on it right now, starting with this interview! Ha.

7. Would you share with us a regular day at work?
I don’t have a regular day. I tend to plan what I’m going to do on the next day, but regular functions at work comprise everything I need to do when they are most needed. Sewing, blogging, going to the post office, investigating, going on visits for the Saber Fazer project, procrastinating (that would be posting on tumblr and pinterest!).
After 15.30 or 17.30h, depending on the day, I stop because we pick up our daughter from school, but it’s hard not to work at anytime when your office is at home!

8. Would you give us a glimpse of your working space? Describe it and tell us what you love most about it.
My working space is A MESS.
The thing I love the most is the same thing I hate about it: being at home.
I have my own room and everything is in here as not to invade the rest of our house – computer, sewing machine, fabric storage and everything else you can imagine. However, I do take over the living room and the kitchen when I need to take pictures. Luckily, the natural light is great and I’m able to take advantage of it.

9. Reading your blog I get overwhelmed, not only by your work, but also by your beautiful photos, frequently related to vintage things, traditional knowledge, fashion… So, tell us about your other passions.
I guess, for me, it all comes down to beauty and trying to understand what makes a beautiful thing endure the test of time.
I love real fashion (not fast fashion), when style is a way of being in this world. I love vintage things because they embody that same time enduring beauty. And I want to understand how things are made, because beauty, for me, has a lot to do with the relationship between conception and production.
My love for photography comes from the fear of forgetting and also because I’m a very visual person. I have a really bad memory and I feel safe recording and cataloguing my memories.

10. You live in a beautiful city in the north of Portugal: Guimarães. Tell us about this place and what you love most about it. Would you like to live anywhere else one day?
Guimarães is a small city but very intense. The “vimaranense” people have a lot of pride on their city, something that I’ve never seen so strong anywhere else in Portugal, and they actually made me love this place, although I only came here to study and ended up staying!
Everyone that comes here will tell you that it is great to lead your everyday life, and it is true.
The other side of the coin, is that it is in the very center of the industrial decay in our country and there’s a constant struggle between the problems of unemployment and poverty and that love for the place they live in.
We talk many times about living in Lucca, Italy. We loved it there!

11. If you could live in any historical era of your choice, what would it be and why?
Anyone that knows me would tell you I’m a little obsessed about the period from the end of the XIXth century, all the way to the 1930’s. The world was changing so quickly (as it is now!) and I just love the different styles of that era.
What I would like the most to do if I lived in that time would be to travel around the world and see it before so many things were irremediably lost.

12. You recently launched another very interesting project: Saber Fazer, focused on documenting traditional and semi-industrial techniques in Portugal. Tell us more about it.
Saber Fazer means “knowing how to make” in portuguese, and the main purpose is to document traditional techniques with the purpose of passing along that information in the future, so that it can actually be used to learn how to practice a given technique.
It is a project of preservation, but also of rediscovery of what we know how to do well in our country, and that has been permanently under appreciated or ignored.
It’s also a journey about learning to love how we make things and who we are as a culture.
I’m really falling in love with this project because, on a personal level, it has come full circle with so many things I have been interested in the last years.

13. We are both Portuguese, so I don’t resist asking: what are the main problems you face being an artist in our country, Portugal?
The main problem is that our country doesn’t even recognize that our type of work exists. Here, to make it without a lot of fuss, you have either to be working for a big company, or own a big company. I’m not interested in any of the two, so I’m on my own, as are most of the creative people here. No backup whatsoever.

14. What advices would you give to someone who would like to learn a bit more about sewing?
I would say that if you can catch a couple of beginner’s classes to learn all the basics, do it. It will save a lot of time and it will give you structure. After that, it’s very easy to practice and learn more on your own, through books or any other way.

15. What are your plans for the future? And your most unrealistic dreams?
I don’t make plans and I can tell you I make a few people very nervous with that “non-planning” and kind of kamikaze trait of mine.
My most unrealistic dream is to never have to worry about money so that I can go about doing what really matters!

Now some quick question and answer game so we can find a bit more about you and your tastes! Tell us one:

book: Alice in Wonderland
music: The Anchor Song, by Bjork
movie: Man with a Movie Camera
personality/artist: Albert Kahn, the philantropist
color: Prussian blue
object: Anything I can carry to record pictures and sounds
animal: Dog
drink: Noussnouss! (coffee and milk)
food: Farrapo Velho, a typical dish made only once a year by my mother with leftovers from Christmas Eve dinner
season of the year: When Spring turns into Summer
travel destination: anywhere by train with a backpack
piece of clothing: high waist wide leg pants
secret: You would have to know me for many years to know something remotely similar to a secret!

Thank you for inspiring us with your work Alice!


  1. O trabalho da Alice, para além de bonito e bem feito é muito consistente e coerente - Tanto na "noussnouss" como a pesquisa e recolha fotográfica para o "Saber fazer".
    Sou assumidamente uma fã! :)

  2. Alice is a very talented woman! So many beautiful and different items. You certainly make me want to come visit Portugal, Ana!

  3. adoro o trabalho da Alice.
    estas entrevistas ajudam a perceber melhor a pessoa atrás do conceito. é fantástico.

  4. lovely read!Thanks for sharing :)

  5. Thanks for sharing a story about such creative individual!


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