Wooden wonders

Upcycling has arrived in the Algarve, courtesy of Algarve Paletes

José Luís Neves and Bruno Capela turned crisis into opportunity: after being laid-off from a well-known home improvement company which saw many of its stores closing, the two friends launched a business that not only follows the popular trend of upcycling – transforming by-products or unwanted items into new products -, but that has also earned them many customers across the Algarve.

The concept of Algarve Paletes (Algarve Pallets) couldn’t be simpler: having acquired extensive knowledge in building materials and DIY, the two childhood friends began recycling wood pallets into original designs, building a wide range of furniture pieces, from beds, sofas and tables to dressers, chests and chairs. The project was officially launched a year and a half ago, with Zé Luís and Bruno sourcing pallets from local suppliers, but also relying on the kindness of those who don’t have any better use for the wooden frames. “We do all sorts of work,” said Zé Luís. “We sometimes use them whole, others we disassemble to build something entirely new. We sand the pallets, paint them, everything.”

What began as a small-scale project for the two unemployed men, quickly turned into a fully-fledged company thanks to their friends and family’s word of mouth and mostly to their Facebook page: “People go to our page, they see our work and they leave us suggestions or pictures of things they would like us to do,” he said. With their very own workshop in Lagoa, in Fatacil, the pair can take up to two days to complete a single piece, but the amount of hours they put in normally depends on the complexity of the job. Some of their most original work includes flower pots, gates, kennels, wine storage units and even kitchen cabinets, but Zé Luís highlights two particular jobs: the Gato de Rua project, in which the duo was commissioned by the Lagoa and Carvoeiro municipalities to build wooden shelters for stray cats; and a bar and restaurant in Portimão, whose shelving units, tables, chairs and bar counter were entirely made of pallets. “We would also like to do more kitchen cabinets, that is something we look forward to,” said Zé Luís.

So far, such creativity has earned the company an array of clients across the region, from Praia da Luz to Olhão, and they have been particularly busy in the western Algarve area, namely in Lagos and Vale da Telha, near Aljezur. The majority of clients, up to 60 to 70% of their clientele, are foreigners, but the pair also hopes to attract more Portuguese customers. With prices usually ranging from €60 to €200 (depending on the size of the project and including transportation), the best way to custom build your project is to contact the pair through their Facebook page and send them a brief description or visual of what you want. With Zé Luís admitting that the company already has a waiting list, all you have to do then is wait until your project comes skillfully to life.

For more information, search for Algarve Paletes on Facebook.

Text Ana Tavares

Author: Inside Carvoeiro

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