Inês Matos Andrade | 2021-06-02

4 Questions for João Olaio

Houses, schools, institutions, post offices, hotels, theaters, services and even congress were furnished with chairs, desks and sideboard from Olaio from the 30s to the 80s of the XX Century. Founded back in the XIX Century by José Olaio with a small shop at Bairro Alto, and like the brand’s site mentions, Olaio is a part of the country’s emotional and affective legacy. The trio Tomáz Olaio, José Espinho and Herbert Brehm were responsible for the modernization of the company that after decades of success, ended up being sold and dismantled in the late 90s, although the vintage pieces produced over a little under a century being incredibly sought after in the XXI Century in antique shops, garage sales and warehouses.

Since 2016 that the fourth generation of the family, José Pedro Olaio and João Olaio, grand grandchild of the founder came together to recover this essential legacy to portuguese design and relaunch the brand on the market. For years they researched, investigated and recovered material that allowed them to reproduce the quality of the materials, the design, some iconic pieces and the identity of this portuguese brand.

The passion for the history of portuguese design took Rita Soares, CEO of Malhadinha Nova, to contact João Olaio to, together bring a little of Olaio’s history to the Alentejo plains, to Albernoa. We spoke to João Olaio to know more about this partnership.

1. How did the relationship between Olaio and Malhadinha Nova started?

Malhadinha Nova already knew Olaio from the past. They even had some vintage pieces on the decoration of some houses on the estate. But it was through social media that they realized that Olaio had been relaunched and they contacted us to suggest furniture for the restaurant that was, at the time, being remodelled. Rita was since the beginning very friendly, making her project an idea that was worked on together.

2. That common denominators do the two brands have?

We share the good taste for the best that Portugal has to offer.

3. In what way did Malhadinha Nova ended up being a showroom for the best that is made in Portugal design-wise?

Every space at Malhadinha Nova was through out with the intention that experience lived there is one of the true permanence, not just a fleeting visit to a beautiful place. They way that one is greeted, and accommodated, the decoration, the restaurant, the food, the wine, the field, the little details, makes us feel that place’s sense of belonging. Pertaining to a beautiful country.

4. At last, what Olaio piece materializes the most the spirit of Malhadiha?

We have many pieces at Malhadinha, some of them developed and adapted in exclusive. However, the one that fits the best in the spiritof that place is the Olaio 62 armchair, that was placed on the new reception desk space. It was Rita that chose the fabrics and colour of the stuffing and the result is a great harmony between the ambient created and pieces that populate it. The armchair itself is a piece that represents the comfort of waiting, the flavour of calm, the rhythm of life in that place.

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