Despite its blurred origins, the interesting point of the article comes when the future of the chair is discussed, which is, as you will read clearly belongs to BICAchair, a brand that brought this design icon from the outdoor to the indoor spaces with personalized finishes and a quality never before seen, making it an international collectable chair.
WHAT ABOUT THE
FUTURE OF THE CHAIR?
If the past of the Portuguese chair is associated with terraces, the future is to bring it indoors. This is the vision of Alexandre Caldas, founder of BICAchair, that has a long connection with one of the companies that produces this piece, since he is the son of Manuel Caldas. Although this hasn’t stopped him from having other plans for the future of the chair.
«When I left the company, due to a matter of business ethics, I removed myself from this chair’s market, but not from the idea of valuing it. I followed its path, not as a protagonist, but merely as a bystander. The approach remained the same, and the chair was stagnated (apart from some one-off intervention initiatives, which didn’t translate into anything with continuity) », Alexandre recalls.
In 2013 he managed to find another way to express his vision for this chair, with the creation of the Portuguese Roots Chair. «This project gave way for the chair to enter the world of luxury interiors and with it the history of the great Portuguese master craftsmen. But also arouse the curiosity of the people to know more about its original model», Alexandre Caldas recalls, regarding this reinterpretation of the classic Portuguese Chair, a model made from wood and cork, that received several international awards.
Following the creation of this chair, he founded, alongside Soraia Rangel, AROUNDtheTREE, a familiar company with the ambition of designign stories for the future, differenciating their brand (not only in design) with the sustainable factor, resorting to alternative raw materials.
Thoughtout the years, he has been present in furniture design fairs and events across the world, until, in 2019, felt that it was time for a change, and wanted to take the Portuguese Chair from the terraces and conquer the indoor spaces. It is in this setting that the BICAchair is rebranded, in march 2020, valuing the handcrafted production and high-quality materials. Now it embraces five collections (Gents, Cork, Classic, Delight and Inborn) and ventures on a communication focused on lifestyle.
One of the main collection is the Gents, produced with premium materials which allows aiming for higher segments. «The Gents line was a personal conviction, as I am passionate about classic motorcycles and cars and the chair is also a classic in itself. We felt the public only viewed the chair as a terrace chair and wasn’t capable of viewing it in any other way. This approach (with the indoor collections) wanted to break this idea and mold, formed in the eyes of the public, showing that this design piece is more that capable to challenge and match any other in our interior spaces», tells Alexandre Caldas.
Currently, the Gents and Classic collections represent the biggest percentage of the sales in the company. The majority of the brand’s clients are international, having already taken its products into homes, restaurants and hotels to locations like the United Stated of America, Hong Kong, France, Sweeden, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Italy, Dubai and, of course, Portugal.
Regarding goals, Alexandre Caldas explains he intends to increase the recognition of the other pieces launched, namely the BICAlounge (which received the bronze medal at the A’Design Awards), that will allow the brand to reach new segments.
We choose national materials,
BICAchair was born with the premisse of embracing local production, but focusing on the international markets. Alexandre Caldas explains that the quality standards determine, most times, the origins of the raw materials. Even though the transformation and assembly of the products are made in Portugal, sometimes, the company has to resource to other countries, in the case of some fabrics, finishes and plywoods. «One example are the natural oils applied in our woods, that are made from fruits and nuts. These are coming from Germany, since we can’t find the same quality in Portugal. The type of polyesters for the finishes also comes from abroad, but, if we can find the same quality in Portugal, we will give it priority», says Alexandre.
– Written by Rafael Paiva Reis