With all her due respect to the profession, Cécile Mestelan finds it quite odd to have professionals decorating other people’s homes. “I like to know the stories behind each piece. When we receive friends and they are curious, it can even be the beginning of a conversation, a way to get to someone’s intimacy.”
In the house that the ceramist shares with her husband, the designer Manuel Amaral Netto, almost everything has a story, and it is very easy to guess the couple’s life by having a look at their two small shelves. The white cage inn in the living room? It was the first piece made by Cécile in Vista Alegre, when she discovered ceramics. Biarritz’s globe? A souvenir offered by his mother, from the city where he was born and raised. The shelf itself is special, designed by the duo From Industrial Design for the brand that Manuel founded and currently directs, UTIL. And even the two clay poops matter: they were handmade by Cécile, to gently remind her of the time – not so long ago – when the French woman felt she did nothing else but to changed diapers. This family’s story is not completed without their two children: Gaspar, three years old, and Vasco, one (almost two).
To the “crazy idea” of having two boys 15 months apart, the couple has this incredible entrepreneurial spirit and a keen aesthetic sense. Both Manuel and Cécile own their own brands, and both create objects for the house, drawn from scratch. He was born in Rua do Patrocínio, in Campo de Ourique and she was born a thousand kilometers away, in Biarritz, on the French coast. They met six years ago in Switzerland, when they were both taking a master’s degree from ECAL – École Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne, in different areas (Manuel in Product Design and Cécile in Visual Arts). They’ve moved to Lisbon in May 2014 and it was Cécile who had to convince her then boyfriend, a so called “alfacinha” (it’s a funny Portuguese expression that means he was born and raised in Lisbon), to return to Portugal.