Loulé Design Lab Artist of the Month – Ramalhete Design

Ramalhete in Portuguese comes from ‘ramo de flores’ and means a bunch of flowers that are commonly tied together with a ‘ramo’ (branch). It’s also the family name of Pedro Ramalhete and his Ramalhete Design project.

I found Pedro in the wood workshop in the Palaçio Gama Lobo (headquarters of the Loulé Criativo) working with a new material, an olive branch, given to him by a fellow artist from the Loulé area. He’s still dreaming about what it might become but thinks it might combine well with cork to make a series of key rings and their corresponding holders for the front door. 

Pedro is originally from Lisbon. He studied design at the University of Aveiro, where he got his PhD, but he has lived in the Algarve for many years, where he teaches design. He loves being close to the ocean and likes to take his SUP paddleboard down to Faro beach and catch some waves whenever he has the chance. He told me how the sea humbles you and makes you realise you are just a drop in the mighty ocean.

I then discovered that his love for the nautical can be seen in a few of Pedro’s pieces. Let’s have a look…

Fisherman’s Blues

“I wish I was a fisherman tumbling on the seas, far away from dry land and its bitter memories.”

I was delighted to discover that Pedro is also a huge fan of Mike Scott and The Waterboys. So much so that he decided to name this range of nautical-inspired keyrings after their 1988 album Fisherman’s Blues

Made with polyethene sail rope, marine stainless steel and aluminium, these keyrings are designed for a life on the high seas, which means they will last a lifetime. Some models even come equipped with a cork – perfect if you are a motorboat owner, sailor or, like Pedro, a SUP paddler and you would prefer your keys to float. 


The Rohr II is a lamp that creates a warm light and cosy atmosphere. It’s made by interlacing wood laminates between pine slats. 

Pedro told me he initially started weaving using Cana Algarvia, the plant traditionally used for weaving baskets, but after some setbacks, he decided to switch the materials. However, he still kept using the ancestral basket weaving technique that gives the Rohr II its beautiful and peculiar light effect. 


This file, made with marine plywood and a sandpaper fabric with a grit of 100 or 150, allows you to be meticulous and precise while working with woods, metals and polymers, even in wet conditions. It can also be used to sharpen pencils and knives.


This bench or side table is made from three plywood pieces of the same size. Like a puzzle, the pieces fit together and form a useful and versatile piece of furniture that can be easily folded up and put away or taken with you.


Made of glazed white clay and local cork, the Grammo is a desk organiser, as well as an amplifier – with a unique sound – for your smartphone.

To help him carry out his design, Pedro once again enlisted the help of a local artisan, a potter from Moncarapacho called Francisco Eugénio.


Jogo do Galo – “Game of the Rooster” in English – is a noughts and crosses game. Made of marine plywood cork and with black and white clay glasses, it can be used not only to carry the shots to the table but is also a drinking game where the loser has to either drink (or pay for them). 


Corbis means basket in Latin and is a desk organiser but also a phone holder. 

Pedro enlisted the help of an artisan from Alcoutim called Isabel Noya for the beautiful miniature Portuguese-style baskets used to hold your pens. The piece also uses local cork from São Brás and Pedro props it up with a piece of see-through PMMA polymer that he managed to source from a factory that was going out of business and saved it from going to waste. 


Made with glazed white clay, the Terracotta Flow has two functions: it is a sound base for a smartphone and also an incense holder.

Available in white, blue stripes and black stripes the glazed ceramic allows the sound to be enhanced in a very particular way.

That’s a wrap!

Even the packaging is a design piece. Pedro doesn’t buy boxes to package his pieces, he makes them himself. He uses recycled cardboard in original ways to keep waste to a minimum. He also reuses the paper from labels, chopsticks and even elastic bands. 

Design the life you want to live

A designer by nature, Pedro told me a little about his process and how it all starts with pencil on paper. Before he gets hands-on with anything, he sketches out and plans his objects until he is sure they will work. 

I enjoyed meeting Pedro and left the building feeling like Ramalhete is a very fitting name for both Pedro and his design project. Like a bouquet of flowers, Pedro collects beautiful local and new materials and delights in finding ever more innovative, durable and multifunctional ways to tie them all together. 

His depth of inspiration for new designs and his love for the sea made me think of the second half of the famous Rumi quote: how we are not only a drop in the ocean – but the mighty ocean in a drop.

To find out more please follow him on Instagram @ramalhetedesign or visit his website www.ramalhetedesign.com


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