BRAIDA’s textile artworks have a contemporary design with a traditional feel, perfect for modern environments

Braiding elegance: Inspired by nature featuring strong and vibrant colours, BRAIDA’s unique textile artworks already travelled the world

– April 10, 2024 | Text Beatriz Maio
Noémia Zancuoghi ©Ruben Guerreiro

Noémia Zancuoghi is a Portuguese-Italian artist who was born in Lisbon and grew up in Silves. As her father is from Milan, she spent many of her childhood summers in the north of Italy with her family and her younger sister Susana, a companion on her adventures.

Braida Orange
©Ruben Guerreiro

Their creativity showed early on. While they played with dolls, Susana created the story and Noémia the sets. “Ever since I was little, I’ve always wanted to make objects out of different materials, paint with coloured pencils and take photographs,” stressed the artist. She knew her career path would be in the Arts, but textile work only came later in life.

Braida Imperfect Square
©Ruben Guerreiro

After studying Arts in secondary school, she moved to Lisbon, where she studied Analogue Photography at the Art and Visual Communication Centre (Ar.Co), but she didn’t stop there. Her fearless side set her a new challenge: working in hospitality in Vienna, the capital of Austria, where she learnt German, developed her customer service skills and, at the same time, built up her photographic portfolio.

Braida Imperfect Square
©Ruben Guerreiro

Back in the Algarve, she worked for just over a year in a hotel in Faro and decided to return to Silves. Together with about 10 friends, she created an association focussed on local socio-cultural development. Although they did well to energise the municipality at first, the group eventually split up and Noémia went on to enjoy some of the best experiences of her life as a result of several trips to different continents, such as South America and Asia, until she looked for Portugal again.

She chose Lagos to settle because she had always liked the city, where she created memories with a teenage friend with whom she travelled from Silves on a pleasant train journey. Enchanted by the movement and uniqueness that can be felt in the streets, there was another reason that made her certain that she wanted to be here: she met her boyfriend Ruben Guerreiro, an architect and the biggest supporter of her dream project.

Braida Explosão geométrica
©Ruben Guerreiro

Having worked in various fields, from hotel management to tourism, she always maintained the parallel desire to invest in a project of her own, a dream that her mother has always supported as she believed in her daughter’s talent. Noémia began to explore macramé techniques with the help of YouTube videos, which led to her first small pieces, made with basic threads.

In 2020, she decided to focus on modern shapes, invented for contemporary environments, and make her art her job. When she completed her first piece, she was amazed at the result, and what began as a hobby became her full-time occupation. And so, BRAIDA was born, a name chosen in honour of the Italian surname of Noémia’s grandmother and great-grandparents on her father’s side, who owned a car workshop of the same name.

Braida Explosão geométrica
©Ruben Guerreiro

She has managed to develop creations that convey nonchalance and elegance at the same time, through different shades and a design that is close to the traditional, but Noémia doesn’t follow a specific concept: she creates her own.

The artist is inspired by nature, everyday details, fashion, photography, and architecture, which translate into art where strong, vibrant colours stand out.

“I wanted to make a difference and stand out from what already existed,” Noémia revealed. And so, she did, by creating unique patterns, produced with extreme dedication and perfectionism. “I enjoy what’s modern, minimalist, and has colour, so I decided to go for pieces where I can combine everything, with simple geometric shapes and the use of various knots,” she explained.

Self-taught, she has adapted an old-fashioned technique to a modern, up-to-date style, mixing various patterns, colours, and knots. She has her own profile and focuses on large works, over a metre wide, ideal for hanging on the walls of a hotel, rural tourism establishment, or private homes.

Her art has travelled the world and today her pieces – which can be commissioned or selected from her website – have made it to Brazil and even the United Arab Emirates.

The abstractionism of Noémia’s works allows everyone to make their own interpretation, “in a spontaneous and personal way”, however they all convey a sense of calm and tranquillity, as if time stops for a moment. She always uses cotton yarn from a national producer and is particularly concerned with sustainability. Hence, Noémia came up with the idea of using nautical ropes to give her pieces more volume with these upcycled materials.

Braida Blue Imagination
©Ruben Guerreiro

The result of her hard and detailed work – each piece takes at least a month to make – is a unique and spectacular visual effect. It all starts with a colour study and a small model, followed by numerous calculations to determine the measurements of the material needed.

“Although I want everything to be perfect, as it is a manual job, it will never be as if it were done by a machine and that’s the magic of it,” the artist reflected, adding that “it’s a long but enjoyable process”.

With her work, she aims to foster a sense of well-being, cheer, lightness, and motivation, which is also true for the accessories she makes from the same materials, such as necklaces and earrings.

From everything she has already achieved, from recognition to the creation of her own studio, Noémia still sees herself at the beginning of her promising path. In the near future, she intends to produce more pieces that can give new life to unused objects, taking the opportunity to explore three-dimensionality, and further down the line hold small group workshops in her studio.

Author: Inside Magazines

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