The beginnings of onomao
In 2018, a fantasy turned into reality. Quite spontaneously we sat at the wheel of a large van heading for Portugal. In the luggage a gas stove, a handful of clothes and two surfboards. It was a nice feeling. It smelled like freedom. We had no idea where our idea was going to take us and the joy of just letting ourselves be surprised grew with every kilometer towards Portugal.
THE CERAMIC STREET
We had a pretty set idea of what form of ceramics we wanted to be produced - and what the circumstances should be like. However, we did not know that the path to find the right producer would be so challenging.
We started our search with a detailed research, which led us to the wrong producers but at least to the right region. We were disappointed by our scheduled appointments, as the manufactures mostly produced flower pots- or they turned out to be big factories, which were skillfully mass producing handmade-looking products. What we really wanted was pottery straight from the potter’s wheel- and not from a market leader but rather from people who could use a big order.
So one appointment took us along a „ceramic street” where we were provided with a crucial tip. In this web of streets we drove onto the yard of a ceramic manufactory owned by a Portuguese family. We were overcome by a strange feeling, as if we had immediately known that we would be visiting this place quite regularly in the future.
A large door opened to reveal a room shrouded in white dust and filled with bustling people. At the very back, three experienced potters sat in front of their disks and were producing salad bowls. Old ladies in floral dresses sat in a circle working on cups. In the middle of the room we saw a large kiln. The pottery is made from stoneware, which is freshly mixed on site. The raw product comes from the region.
Mario had just taken over the management of the family business from his father and we were his first customers. He was also our first producer. That was the beginning of a creative, cordial and unusual collaboration.
THE CARPET VILLAGE
Just as hopeful as aimless we started our search for carpets. We felt like young truffle pigs that have to stick their noses everywhere. Be it traditional markets, boutiques or regional shops: we have been everywhere. And all of a sudden, we did not only find the exact shape of carpet we were looking for all along- we were also talking to the right person.
That is how we ended up in a village full of carpet manufactories, which could not have been more Portuguese: old, simple and beautiful houses stand next to new, less beautiful ones. There are no traces of tourists, just a lot of tanned faces, who watch you with curious and questioning looks. The fact that this is a „rug village“ is not obvious at first glance and it took us a few trips to figure it out ourselves. Fatima acts a as a kind of assembly point. She collects and distributes the rugs, which are woven by her family, neighbors and friends. They sit in front of their wooden looms in their garages, their living rooms or their gazebos. The fabrics used are leftovers from the regional fashion industry and are repurposed to weave the traditional carpets. It is an eclectic collection of leftover fabric, which gets a new purpose this way. The rugs then find their way into a multitude of different households.
Since 2021, our Fatima carpets are no longer in the range. Nevertheless we are truly grateful for this authentic, warm place, which we have chosen to be the production site of our first onomao rugs. We were Fatima’s first customer outside of their region. And that is something we are all proud of.