Designer Nina Andrade Silva injects personality into her hotel designs and first furniture collection.
By Stacy Shoemaker Rauen; Nini Andrade Silva photo courtesy of Helder Santos from ASPress Company
Talk to Nini Andrade Silva about where she has recently traveled, and your head spins. And it’s not because of where she has been (even though that is impressive), but the fact that everywhere this free spirit goes she encounters new people who lead her on unplanned excursions and leave her with rich stories to share. “I have a friend who used to say, ‘possibilities in life are in the air for everybody,’” the Portugal-based residential-turned-hospitality designer says.
And it has paid off. Andrade Silva now has a 40-person team in offices in Lisbon and Madeira, Portugal, London, and soon Kuala Lumpur. She is increasingly making a name for herself in the hotel world with her award-winning clean-lined modern and soulful designs. And now she has launched her first furniture collection, Garota do Calhau, which means “Girl of the Pebble,” in Portuguese.
Andrade Silva has always designed furniture for each of her hotel projects, so a collection of her own was a natural progression. “When I started to do hotels, more or less 10 years ago, I started to design furniture for them, and everybody started to ask who made it,” she explains.
The Dunna couch from the Garota do Calhau collection
Her line of sleek outdoor loungers, daybeds, sofas, and other pieces is very personal, as it’s inspired by the smooth pebbles along the shores of her hometown of Madeira, where she recalls children walking along the beach barefoot and collecting them. “In the old times, people didn’t have too many things,” she explains. “As a kid, I liked to help pick the rocks. The tourists would come [into port] on big boats and send money and things to the kids on the beach.”
She is helping to recreate that phenomenon—part of the profits from the collection are delegated to her newly formed foundation with the same name, which helps disadvantaged children.
A freestanding tub sits at the foot of an uplit bed in the Vine Hotel, Portugal (Photo courtesy of Henrique Seruca)
When she is not giving back, she is infusing hotels with her signature style, what has been dubbed “ninimalist.” (Yes, that’s minimalist and Nini put together.) The Fontana Park Hotel in Lisbon is an exercise in black and white, capturing the hotel’s history as a former iron factory in the 1900s. The Vine Hotel “is the story of Madeira,” she says, with freestanding bathtubs at the foot of uplit beds in the guestrooms. And at the Hotel Teatro in Porto, Portugal, housed in a former theater, guests enter large doors inscribed with a Portuguese poem, and in the lobby, carpets are “photographs of the backstage of the theater” and reception desks are box office-inspired.
“It’s the whole story of the Portuguese theater,” she says. “I always make a story with my designs.”
The dramatic poem-lined entrance of Hotel Teatro (Photo courtesy of Nickolas Bayntun)
A guestroom at the Fontana Park Hotel in Lisbon (Photo courtesy of Simon Frederick)