Fifteen years since founding her studio, Cristina Jorge de Carvalho has opened a showroom and unveiled her own range of furniture
She studied business management but soon realised it wasn’t for her. Her passion for interior design was just too strong, leading her to another world, where the verb “to manage” was put to a different use. “I didn’t feel fulfilled with what I was doing and I figured I should return to an old passion. Obviously, seven years after completing a degree, I didn’t feel like starting another, and so I went to study interior design in London. From then on, step by step, I began to enter this field,” reveals Cristina Jorge de Carvalho.
On her return to Portugal, the designer founded the CJC Interior Design studio and began a journey, which she today describes as “steady and sustained”. Her work began to gain visibility and success became a constant in every project she undertook. The top student in her interior design course at the Inchbald School of Design, Cristina reveals that the start of her career was a slow and selective process. “When I first opened the studio I was very selective and I only took on certain projects that really had a big impact. One of my first works was on the cover of Máxima Interiores magazine and another was the renovation of the Hotel Praia Mar (…) I am someone who is very sure of what I do.”
Fifteen years have now passed since then. The designer highlights some moments within this journey that she recalls with particular fondness. “The first two international awards I received gave me great pleasure – the Best Hotel Interior for Europe, awarded at the European Hotel Awards (Altis Prime) and the recognition at the International Design Awards for the conceptual project for the Champalimaud Foundation.”
Passionate about every project she does, without exception, Cristina admits that “the fantastic thing about this profession is starting something from fresh and therefore being able to place your entire creative ability at the disposal of a project”. As for inspiration, she finds it everywhere. “There might be something you see and that lurks somewhere in your subconscious and one day it appears, associated with something else, in another moment. Because life is an eternal source of inspiration, in all its forms.”
In an increasingly competitive market, Cristina assures us that the secret behind a project’s success lies in the details. “I’m a very demanding person and, as such, precision is a basic premise in my projects and of my entire team. The great detail we go into is unique. We want to provide the customer with the very best and this includes the quality of the interior design project and the decoration. Basically, it is a five-star, tailor-made service.”
It was with the focus on this unerring quest for “details” that the CJC Home concept recently came into being, a by-appointment-only sales showroom. Exclusiveness, bespoke quality and the possibility for customers to get a feel for the kind of projects she makes are the main characteristics of the outlet. “I had been looking for a place for a long time and when this one came up I thought it would be ideal (…) Everything on show here is for sale.” Standing on Rua Alexandre Herculano, next to Avenida da Liberdade, the aim of the showroom is to be a living portfolio of her projects and also to showcase the new range of furniture she has designed.
Her ‘Furniture Collection’ is joined by other pieces from international brands, such as Knoll, Vitra, Arflex, Carl Hansen and Artifort, as well as other works of art from the Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art gallery. “I remember challenging Cristina to show some of her works here and she agreed without a second thought. It’s actually turned out very well. Many of our customers are foreigners; they arrive in the morning and leave in the afternoon, so they don’t have much time. This way, they already have a series of works of art that they can view and purchase. Otherwise, it would be impossible for them to go to the gallery because they wouldn’t have time to do so (…) I am also responsible for selecting the works of art for the projects.”
Although there are possible plans for expanding business beyond Portugal, given that “the furniture collection is on the right track for internationalisation through new sales channels”, Cristina believes that the most important thing for the future of her brand is actually “being able to continue to express creativity in full and undertake projects”.