The art of restoration and transformation

What if, instead of buying something new, we make use of what we already have at home? How about transforming objects that we already own, giving them a new life?

This is the mission and the essence of the work of the artist we want to present you today!

Isabel Ferrão is a Portuguese artist, who studied painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Porto. Curious and in search of more knowledge, she also took other courses, in Drawing, Blown Glass Production Techniques without Mould, Handmade Bookbinding and a training in social action in the community.

As Damas de Paus [The Queens of Clubs]

In 2013, Isabel got together with her friend and fellow student, Leonor Pimentel, and they created As Damas de Paus – a project that involves the transformation of furniture, interior decoration and also includes a training component, through workshops for those who, like them, want to reuse what they already have.

The Ladies are experts in this field and propose to give a new life to their surroundings, transforming both objects and spaces/places, turning what is “old” into “new” and always leaving their magic wherever they go!

Linhas com Rosto Project [Lines with a Face]

Another project of great importance to the artist and in which she was directly involved was the project Linhas Com Rosto. This project aimed to train people with cognitive difficulties (slight disability) in the art of restoration/transformation of used furniture pieces, aiming at promoting social interaction, integration and socio-professional inclusion.

The project also promoted community involvement, with each citizen being able to donate furniture with no use for them. Local shoes and cork industries were involved, donating their surplus leather and cork, as well as local writers and poets, who helped create a catalogue of the furniture with the story of each participant. One of the goals was to create unique and exclusive furniture and for this they also had excellent support and input from local designers.

Unfortunately, with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, numerous difficulties arose which made it impossible to continue this excellent initiative. In addition to not being able to finish restoring some of the furniture, they were also unable to sell the furniture made by the participants. However, what saddened the artist the most, was the failure to achieve the major objective of the project – creating employment opportunities for the participants.

An artist in different ways

As an artist, Isabel was used to working alone in a studio, so when the pandemic broke out, she continued working on her project As Damas de Paus. The number of customers wanting to transform furniture dropped, the amount of work decreased and the support from the State was very limited.

However, little by little, the requests for work grew again, and she even started transforming furniture for local accommodation! Another opportunity that arose was the change of atelier, and she is currently in a shop in the center of Porto, where she has more visibility.

Her day-to-day work is very diversified, when she has work to restore and transform furniture, she dedicates herself exclusively to that. When she has more free time, she paints on commission and does model work for an artist, Susana Bravo, when she needs it.

She’s currently taking part in the E-Crafts project, developed by Rosto Solidário (together with other partners), where she develops restoration and furniture transformation workshops for the community, especially for retired people, unemployed people and art teachers.


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