Nature speaks to Samuel Reis

“Nature suggests, I apply”. The premise – coming through as, dare I say, a promise – is uttered by Portuguese product designer Samuel Reis, an explorer in his true essence, a maker. His pieces come close to extensions of what nature gives him, but it’s the process that matters for him the most. «To me, design is the process, how you get to things. I try to make my work reflect the continuity and perception of something that comes from natural surroundings», he tells us.

Born in Lagos but currently living in Caldas da Rainha, Samuel Reis learned a lot during his college years at ESAD – degree in Industrial Design and master’s degree in Product Design – but the taste for using his hands to create and build something came from an earlier time: «When I was a kid, I loved going to the tiny workshop where my dad used to do some DIY with wood and stuff so I could fix or make things from and for our home».

After he finished the master’s degree, he got a partner that was pivotal to furthering his work. I’m talking about VICARA, a product design editing studio, whose co-founder Paulo Sellmayer, «became interested in selling the “Cerne” piece when it was still in prototype/developing stage. That was how I started working with them. Today I work closely with VICARA on all kinds of projects». “Cerne” is one of his most outstanding collection of pieces, a set of bottles, glasses and vases that were glass-blown from tree trunk cores. «When I find a tree trunk and transform it into a glass-blowing mold, I’m giving it a new direction, a new course of action to be used with other materials and, in a certain way, I’m also materializing an existing void, which is what happens with “Cerne”. In this case, what I intend is to remove exactly that, the void inside the hollow, decaying tree trunk. The “Cerne” glass pieces are the following chapter of the tree, the invisible beauty, if you will», he adds.


Process cerne

Last year, he released “Pyrolysis”, which essentially refers to the process of decomposition brought about by high temperatures. According to him, the project intends «to explore the limits of wood» with a piece that is first «lathed and then flamed». The final result is a whole other existence for the piece of wood as if it were «reborn with a new formal and aesthetic language».


Nature as both a starting point and finishing line, and the foundation of design for Samuel Reis. We’re definitely looking forward to seeing what’s coming next.

pine table

pine stool

Process pine stool

entre ramos

More about Samuel Reis's work:

Text by Soraia Martins

Pictures © Samuel Reis