Meet the artist Joana Astolfi

Meet the artist Joana Astolfi

Can you tell us your story so far?

I grew up in Cascais to a Brazilian architect and Portuguese art gallery owner, so naturally they both stimulated my creativity. My bachelor’s was in architecture, and I did my first internship in Munich. All my life I’ve been a traveler. I’ve lived in London, Venice and Los Angeles. During my period in Venice, I worked in Benetton’s creative hub, which was a very immersive and profound experience. It probably was the most creatively intense experience I ever had and the one that gave me my creative audacity. A few years later I came back to Portugal, and I already felt like a "hybrid artist”, always between architecture and art, especially regarding interior design, which is my main focus currently. There were two major moments in my career: working with José Avillez, a Portuguese chef, and working for Hermès. Working with Avillez was a remarkable experience, as I had the opportunity to do several art pieces for his restaurants as well as designing his famous “Cantinho do Avillez”, for example. In Hermès’ case, I worked there for over 10 years. I focused on designing the windows for their Lisbon location, but I also designed the windows for their stores in Paris and Barcelona. Currently, I’m the owner of my Astolfi Studio which employs around 20 people, with a particular focus on interior design. I’m a person in constant reinvention, but I think my playfulness and creativity have always been alongside me. I’m a person who loves travelling and scanning all the little details. I currently live in Lisbon with my lovely daughter Duna, who herself is very creative. I love life’s little pleasures, and I always try to embrace the “Work hard, play harder” motto.



What motivated you to start your own business?

I never ambitioned or dreamt of having my own studio. I had a 20 m2 studio in Rua das Salgadeiras when I started. Then I began to get a lot of requests for different projects, so I had to hire some people. My work began to spread, and the studio grew organically. I always had a drive to create my own language. People from the industry (but not exclusively) know what Astolfi’s language refers to and that, to me, is the biggest conquest of my business. You can’t just be an artist; you must also be a businesswoman. A lot of artists don’t have this vein, but I naturally created that part of me. Now I have a whole team for my studio, but this all began by myself constantly trying, failing and growing up.


What does style mean to you?

 Style is a dangerous word. It comes from the inside, from the audacity of the person. You learn a lot about someone before they open their mouths. You have to pay attention to how they dress, how they move, how they look… Clothes are very important, accessories as well. Being sensitive to colors and shapes is very important. As an artist, what moves me is beauty itself, not just the aesthetic layer, but also intelligence and the human dimension of the person. It’s also about the groove of the person!

Best place to be in Portugal?

My home, my refuge, where I feel at peace. Everywhere close to the sea. Sitting in a terrace drinking an Aperol with my friends. Specific places I would say Príncipe Real, Chiado, the center of Lisbon gives you that neighborhood feeling where you can walk everywhere, and you know everyone. I love Tavira. I love Alentejo, especially Reguengos de Monsaraz and Barrocal. I love Porto, I’m in love with the Douro River, we’re making a big hotel there currently. I really enjoy Comporta as well, beautiful beaches. And Cascais, where I grew up, of course.


Which band/music style/artist inspires you?

I grew up listening to Bossa Nova and Jazz. I love it, always listening to it. I listen to hip-hop, soul, funk. I also like house music, and I did some gigs as a house DJ in Italy and the UK. Specific artists I would say Incognito, José James, Tom Jobim, Elis Regina, Billie Holiday, Amy Winehouse…


Next steps for you?

I would say my next step is focusing more on hotel design. Sometimes I go to hotels just to get inspired by their design and all the little details. A hotel is like home away from home. Astolfi Studio is also currently doing a restaurant in Toronto, Canada, and I'd increasingly like continue working on that path, from Portugal to the world. This year I also really want to do more collabs like this one with +351. I have collaborated with Viúva Lamego, a Portuguese tile company, to build “Duna", a Marrakech inspired collection; I have also collaborated with the Passa ao Futuro Association in which I designed a collection of palm suitcases with an artisan who worked with palm, and so on. Our studio is currently creating our own brand “Astolfi Home Collection”, which will be mainly focused on the creation of new small interior design products and selling them.


Any guilty pleasures you want to mention?

I hate the word guilt; it doesn’t go along with my life. It’s very catholic. I work the first two or three hours of the morning lying in bed. I conquered that with time. I love massages, ice cream, aperitivo hour, golden hour. When people call me a lot in the morning, I tell them I’m in a meeting. I also really like to subtract objects from restaurants or hotels, never private houses, just a small object that reminds of a certain moment or a person I did my trip with.