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Discovering Portugal one stone at a time

IDC members embark on a trade mission to the country’s design innovation hub in Leiria, Portugal  

Last November, four IDC members took part in the association’s latest trade mission – a program that provides members the opportunity to explore business ventures and forge new partnerships with interior designers and manufacturers across the globe.

The three-day mission, sponsored by Nerlei, the Entrepreneurial Association of the Leiria Region, offered Canadian designers an inside look into the manufacturing of sandstone, limestone, marble, home décor, and local food and wine products, and also included architects, project managers, and urban planners from across the US and England.

“The opportunity to have the honour to represent Canada and interior designers nation-wide in Leira, Portugal this November was an experience I will never forget,” says Krista Paine, of IPC and DESIGN. Paine is a Registered interior designer, project manager, red seal carpenter and a member of IDC’s Advocacy Committee.

“Seeing first hand what Portuguese culture creates in home decor was astonishing,” she adds. “I found Portuguese businesses to be hard working and full of drive, fully taking advantage of creating international relationships.” 

Along with one-on-one meetings with local designers and manufacturers, delegates had a chance to explore the region by way of design tours, organized by Nerlei. One such visit provided an intimate look at Portugal’s limestone production, with a gorgeous view of a quarry and the intricate machinery that brings beautiful products to life and into the buyers’ living rooms and urban spaces.

[Mission delegates visit the Airemármores quarry, one of the country’s largest exporters of limestone and marble]

Another tour took the group to Solancis, the country’s award-winning limestone manufacturer, which chooses raw materials with precision, optimizes the existing resources to increase production, keeping  sustainability and quality of the finished product a priority.

[Delegates touring the Solancis factory, which is situated in the centre of Portugal, about 90km north of the capital, Lisbon.]

One-on-one meetings provided IDC members with insight into what Portuguese business owners and manufacturers are seeking from a Canadian audience, with a chance to give input, especially to smaller businesses about how to break in to the North American market. Some of those companies included interior specialists such as Jomaze, S. Bernardo, Eurogeia-Mobiliario, Lda, Nocal, António Rosa Cerâmicas, Byfly, and Manulena; companies focused on exteriors, such as  Aquimar, MVC, Gárgula Gótica and Airemármores, and Solancis (pictured above); and local food and wine producers, such as Caves VigidalPanicongelados, Herdados dos Templários, Cardo Sra. do Monte, Herdade do Rocim, and Atelier do Doce.

“In addition to the incredible hospitality that the hosts provided, I was also thrilled by the vendors, products, and their manufacturing facilities,” says Tammy MacKay, Registered interior designer, IDC, AKBD, LEED Green Associate, and member of IDC’s Advocacy Committee.

“High quality and craftsmanship was shown in every place that we visited; products are touched by real people, not just machines, and all the hands that touch the products during construction give it a special quality that is hard to find,” says MacKay. “The companies that are owned by generations of the same family are a testimonial to the hard work and commitment by the local people.”

There are many more IDC trade missions planned for 2019. Read more about the events, and apply to join other IDC members on the exciting journey of discovering design, life, and culture across the globe.

For more information, contact

National Industry Partners
Benjamin Moore keilhauer Upper Canada Forest Products Architex Lutron Caesarstone Canada
Samsung Hunter Doulgas Mohawk Group Cosentino Knoll Levey Industries
Milliken Midgley Shaw Contract