Azorean Loop by Octavio Barrera

Working between Barcelona and the Canary Islands, Octavio Barrera is a Canary-born designer with a special interest in primary materials and creative explorations. His ‘Azorean Loop’ project, represents an exploratory journey in the Azorean Islands, Portugal, where Octavio Barrera revalues the souvenir model through the landscape and crafts of the place itself. As he mentions, this project aims also to reflect on the ‘importance of traditional crafts as a part of the history of each territory and how can they be useful as a tool of interculturality between different places around the globe.

The Beginning

Octavio Barrera: Last year during a trip to the Azorean archipelago, I started a self-initiated project exploring the traditional wicker craftsmanship and landscapes from the islands we visited, with the vague idea of mixing them in some way. The exploration reflects the importance of travel souvenirs and local crafts decadence in the area because of not having a new generation interested in it.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

The Process

Octavio Barrera: I took this photo (*inspirational landscapes) on our visit to the Furnas and it was one of the images that made me think about how it would work to apply the color of a specific location to a piece as a local souvenir, based on this concept, then I tried to link it with the leftover material that I collected from Joao’s workshop, a craftsman who has worked the wicker as the main material of his work-life for almost fifty years, he showed me his work process and how he used the material to generate his traditional pieces.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Octavio Barrera: This explorative project ends on a unique piece series made with wicker leftovers from João’s workshop and natural volcanic dye that was used to dyed parts of the pieces with the Azorean landscape tones.

Final objects

Octavio Barrera: Escova is one of the resulted pieces from the exploration. A reinterpretation of the traditional wicker broom inspired by João’s work. The piece was made with leftovers from his process mixed with a LED lighting system. Also, the main part of the lamp was dyed with a natural volcanic dye I made of “lapilli” (little volcanic rocks) to give a tonality from the Azorean landscape palette to the piece. Now this craft is getting lost in the area because there are not many people interested in relieving it, and this is another point I wanted to emphasize with this exploration, perhaps if the work of traditional artisans were intervened by contemporary creatives and designers, a new generation could be interested in relieving these people necessary for the heritage of each place. Bloco and Escova are unique pieces inspired by the Azorean landscapes and João’s work.


Octavio Barrera: Crafts have always been part of our society and are a cultural heritage, a healthy and respectful way of contacting primary materials and nature through the ingenuity of the human being. It has always been there…, from my point of view, what has changed has been the way in which new generations have seen it due to industrialization and mass consumption. Design and crafts have coexisted for decades. Design is a key discipline to bring these crafts to new generations from a more attractive and contemporary vision, rescuing and experimenting with the heritage of ancestral way of doing, transporting it to the present-future with new forms, tools, and technologies according to crafts. Crafts could not remain in collectibles, as work objects of the past, but as modus vivendi for many. Crafts can coexist with industrialization as long as it is given the social value it has. 

Project by Octavio Barrera | Design Atelier, Documentary photography: Octavio Barrera | Studio photography: Ampi Aristu.