We had the pleasure of sitting down with Francisco Lameiras, the 2nd generation owner of vintage, Nordic and restored furniture store, América Móvel. Those who fancy this genre of furniture pride themselves in showcasing unique and excusive pieces from the ever talented and renowned América Móvel. Here is what we found out.
The Living Abroad Guide (TLAG) – Was this an old family business? What influenced the decision to be in this type of work?
Francisco Lameiras (FL) – Yes, our company was created in 1978, by my father. At the time he worked as a tour guide. Through that job he met an American (Mr. Brown), who worked in the furniture business, and it was Mr. Brown who introduced my father to the amazing world of good furniture. My father started exporting clocks, Portuguese and English furniture to the United States, and that is also how our name became América Móvel.
TLAG – So you´ve been around for 3 decades, wow!-How have you seen the manufacture and design of furniture change over that time?
FL – Today we live in a technological era and that also affects furniture. The production of furniture has become more mechanical. Regarding the design, nowadays it is possible to achieve more elaborate forms and still have different applications of materials, thus, the best results come from the joint forces of human expertise and machine functionality.
TLAG – Though your company sells furniture, have you ever wanted to venture into design and/or production?
FL – Not yet, we have been focusing on ‘giving life back’ to the furniture we import from the Scandinavian countries and the one´s we buy locally. However, we have the dream and objective of starting to design and produce some of our own pieces, and I believe we will do it sooner rather than than later.
TLAG – Which era and line of antiques seems to be popular with the Portuguese and with expats (if you know)? Also what do you send most overseas?
FL – Scandinavian furniture is very popular among the Portuguese, but also our foreign costumers with its straight lines, beautiful wood veneers and great designers.
Scandinavian design is the main focus of our business and most of the furniture we send overseas nowadays is from the era 1950s – 1960s.
TLAG – How much of your business is local? What would you say is the character of your typical customer? Is there one?
FL – Most of our business is local, we sell to local private buyers, hostels, hotels, and interior designers. However, we also rent the furniture for events, film and television production, photography and for advertising.
My clients are the ones who are looking for a piece of furniture that will last, that is very well designed and in a certain way, a collection piece. They´re looking for iconic and rare furniture, that we are constantly on the look for.
TLAG – Your locations now, here in Lisbon and in Santarem, are these original or were you somewhere else – perhaps in another part of the country, sharing space somewhere, working out of your home (storage on your property)?
FL – We have been through different exhibition spaces and have also had 3 different locations in Lisbon, before settling in at 428 Rua de São Bento. Santarém´s warehouse was the last one and came from the need tolocate our furniture in the center of country, so that many of our cutomers from the north and south (of Portugal) could visit us easily, at a great location, that boasts an incredible 2000 square meters and is full of design.
TLAG – How much of a stickler are you when it comes to “provenance,” (having purchase receipts, professional appraises, historic records, auction house documents and photographs)?
FL – We keep records of everything we do, as it shows and helps our costumers and visitors understand our acquisition process. Implementing and strictly abiding by these processes gives us credibility and shows the core andobjective of our business, transparently. We are actually building a small museum in Santarém, with some unique bits and our story.
TLAG – Have people already started to collect from the 20 10s or is the furniture made now simply not that memorable?
FL – There are always memorable and collectible pieces from each era. It really depends on what is trending and the individual taste of each person. If you collect something from the present, that has a nice design and quality, the probability of having a design icon in the future ishigh and a great choice.
We at The Living Abroad Guide send our thanks to América Móvel for sharing a piece of their past, present and future!