Objects of the Wild Sea

Research and development of crafts in fishing communities

The people we met in the course of this work have a particular connection with things, their surroundings, their nature, and the nature of things. It was what we first understood: that there is another reality beyond what one sees, hears and does. Like the fisherman who can tell the depth of the sea by looking at the (water) surface.

This awareness is reflected in the way a material culture develops in the places where fishermen live and work. Where at first we saw rubbish and spoil, we discovered scores of potential “other things” or materials from which yet other things can be made. The creativity that forces us, at sea, to know beyond what we see, also applies on land. All things can become other things. A canister can be a vase, a bowl can be an appliance, a plastic bottle can be a ballast or buoy. To this vision we added the ability to create with what is at hand t hand – the art of resourcefulness. In these communities, which are no more than 70 years old, the scarcity of material goods, even natural ones like wood, resembles what is experienced on a boat, where any need has to be solved with the means available on board. This forced creativity, together with the necessary dexterity for the fishing arts – nets, knots and rigging – is the origin of so much aptitude and ingenuity. Because beyond a vision, the transformed artefacts showcase artistry, knowledge and a lack of rules – they are completely free. Here, the law is tide, sun and luck. 

We arrived in these communities expecting to find natural materials, indigenous objects and a collective memory, but these things are not part of this seaside universe. Instead, there is a very individual way of doing, of solving, of finishing an object. Here, the solutions, despite having the same functional essence, have different results, with particular colours, knots, shapes and improvements. 

The free, spontaneous and conscious manner of using materials and producing artefacts is the specificity that defines the material culture of these ports and fishing communities. How, even adhering to certain cultural codes, these artefacts are created independently and autonomously, free of formal or aesthetic rules, and responding only to the individual imagination of those who make them.

This “ingenuity of improvisation”, which constantly merges the natural beauty of the place and the synthetic beauty of materials, was what struck us most and ended up guiding the whole design process. And, possibly, it will never be forgotten.

The PESCARTE project focused on the research and development of craft techniques linked to the activities of fishing communities in the municipality of Odemira: Vila Nova de Milfontes, Longueira Almograve, Entrada da Barca and Azenha do Mar, the latter two in the parish of S. Teotónio. It aimed at innovating through design and through the conscious involvement of fishermen and artisans. The intention was to re-introduce local crafts to the community itself, as well as the “market”, with a new image and a future commercial outlook. 

Read the PESCARTE catalogue here.



CACO - Associação de Artesãos do Concelho de Odemira
General Coordination

TAIPA, Crl (Paula Lourenço)


Thematic Texts

Cláudia Freire, Luís Sousa Martins
Graphic Design


Álbio Nascimento, Carla Lopes, Cláudia Freire, Kathi Stertzig, Susana António
Product Photography

Fábio Mestrinho



FERMENTA + THE HOME PROJECT DESIGN STUDIO, Álbio Nascimento , Susana António
António Canelas, António Reis, Célia Teixeira, Inês Viana, Januário Nobre, José Francisco Reis, Manuel Porfírio Inácio, Maria Baptista Gonçalves, Maria Isabel Pereira, Maria de Jesus Oliveira Jesus, Maria Manuela Figueirinha, Miguel dos Santos, Paulo Manuel da Silva, Rita Silvério Morais
Product Design
FERMENTA, Álbio Nascimento, Carla Lopes, Kathi Stertzig
Graphic Design
Design Residency
Ana Escobar, Susana Gama
Município de Odemira, Junta de Freguesia de Vila Nova de Milfontes, Junta de Freguesia de Longueira/Almograve, Junta de Freguesia de S. Teotónio

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