Over the last few years, we have followed the work of our neighbours and we believe that they played a decisive role in Lisbon’s rise to one of the most active and sought-after capitals in the digital and technological landscape. We have witnessed its remarkable journey towards innovation and creativity, contributing significantly to transforming the eastern part of Lisbon into an important geography of the city, while at the same time converting it into an emerging cultural and artistic catalyst. We invited Marvilab to share their journey.
Introduce yourselves. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is João Mendonça, I am 30 years old. Born and raised on the Alentejo coast, I came to Lisbon when I was 18 to study and I have a degree in Electronics. In college, I started working in the creative industry and, in recent years, I have been developing products applied to brands, artists, businesses and companies.
Together with my partner Jean-Michel Chartiel, Marvilab was created in 2019. Jean was born in Switzerland, is 42 years old and, until he settled in Lisbon, he went through several parts of the world. Graduated in Architecture, he managed to combine his passion for traditional mechanics with technology, and today he develops bespoke electronic and mechanical devices.
We are a studio of technologists, with experience in several technical areas, such as electronics, mechanical engineering, interactive design, software development, manufacturing, architecture, product design and robotics. What we offer customers is our manufacturing capability. Due to our proximity, we have managed to make our team an extension of our customers, thus giving life to ideas or concepts, going through all stages, from creative thinking, strategy, production planning, design, prototyping, to integrated internal execution. This way of being and developing our work has allowed us to experience several challenges and have a diverse range of clients, from artists, brands, advertising agencies, architecture studios, industry, restaurants, event agencies, theaters, art galleries, museums, etc.
Your project has a strong connection to technology, innovation and digital – do you want to explain how?
We are the result of the technological development of recent years in the digital and manufacturing area, which has allowed the common user the ability to manipulate machines and techniques that would normally only be at the service of heavy industry. Innovation is constant and we are always looking for new equipment that we can add as a tool to our work.
We have already produced very different applications from each other, from the construction of mechanical shop windows for Pastelaria Castro and Hermès in Bairro Alto, the industrial design and construction of a packaging recycling machine, a remote controller through an Arcade machine, to a radio-controlled kart 8 km away for Mercedes-Benz, which we put to the test at the Web Summit in 2021.
We have a strong desire to create something new and innovation does not always come from new technologies. It is possible to develop a novelty by joining techniques, materials or electronic components that have never been combined. We try to do this creative “gymnastics” in our internal processes, both with our clients and in original projects that we work with the sole purpose of seeing the light of day. That is, we use technology as a vehicle for creative solutions, whether to communicate an idea/campaign or to improve the functionality of a product.
Did this relationship with technology and the digital universe have any impact on the success of your project?
In our opinion, the digital universe has had a huge impact on all businesses, making it possible for us to be ever closer to our customers. Technology has allowed that, in three years of activity, the pace at which job opportunities reach us is increasing. In the same way, digital has amplified the opportunities and strength with which we are able to respond to the challenges they pose to us.
Why choose the western part of Lisbon to implement your workspace? How do you relate to the neighbourhood? Do you have or do you envision creating synergies with neighbours of Beato and Marvila?
Marvila is the place to be when it comes to technological and, above all, artistic exploration. Creativity is naturally merging with technology between Cabo Ruivo, Beato and Marvila and, therefore, being able to be part of this movement at its core is truly positive. In addition, we have the opportunity to eat well, and have a view of the river, which inspires the bonanza that we believe is to come after the pandemic.
Being able to work in a neighborhood like Marvila means to open the studio door and speak directly with carpenters, locksmiths or other manufacturing services, but also having digital production centers, video producers, creative agencies and galleries available. This natural synergy makes everything we do more personal and honest.