The meaning of urban art, by Bat Eye

Marco Sousa, founder of Bat Eye

Marco Sousa, founder of Bat Eye

By: Cláudia Baptista

Photo: Bat Eye

Furniture bordering on artwork, the Bat Eye pieces from Marco Sousa are inspired by urban references to add original collective memories to any interior

An architect by profession, Marco Sousa was moved by the “desire to create furniture that would take the elements of convergence between art and the city”, and so, in September 2011, he launched the Bat Eye furniture line. The brand was unveiled to the world at the Décorex trade show in London alongside internationally renowned designers, showcasing the pieces that are a tribute to different places and which embody the forms, movements, gestures and colours that were once in the designer’s mind.

One thing that sets Bat Eye apart is the importance of craftsmanship, in an approach in which technology only makes sense if it incorporates tradition. This is the perspective championed in a production process in which both an artisanal component and mechanical means are present in equal measure. “We value the manual work of the skilled and dedicated artisans. From the most noble of materials comes excellence, from the most precise details comes unity, and from the passion we place in everything we do comes a unique piece”, said founder Marco Sousa.

The exclusive Bat Eye pieces sit somewhere between furniture and works of art, which look to embody collective memories in the form of eye-catching pieces that are able to draw attention in any environment. In this way, they are a patchwork of urbanity transferred into pieces of furniture to enhance private spaces. Cities tell stories, and Bat Eye listens to them and captures them – through an acute perception very similar to the bat that inspired the name of the brand – and interprets them to re-create them through a distinct and unique vision, that of founder Marco Sousa.

This is how the city of Oporto inspires his creativity. “Its streets took on my strokes, its light was cast on my colours; I draw to discover its mysteries. Walking around the city aimlessly, I draw what catches my attention; I capture the details that could go unnoticed by those who don’t look carefully. I roam the city with a notepad and a pen between my fingers and, when inspiration strikes, I sit down and draw.”

Once the piece of furniture is produced, the designer hopes it will provoke, stimulate and seduce the public. Mostly for its originality: no piece is the same, all have had a manual input, from a painter, a joiner, a sculptor…and Marco Sousa himself stamps his own personal touch. He creates trends rather than follow them, just like what happened in 2011 with the piece “Arc”, one of the first, with the typical Oporto rosettes that now can be seen everywhere.

Visibility at national and international fairs is also a key point for the designer. In the last three years, Bat Eye was present at 12 fairs and aims to increase this number every year. Alongside this strategy, the brand attends many national events and commits to partnerships with Portuguese brands, in the hope that it can make the most of more exposure and the potential of Portuguese products.

But its exhibition spaces, both national and international, are also a part of that strategy: the first Bat Eye showroom is located in Oporto, at Hotel Carris da Ribeira. In 2014, it expanded to Lisbon, at Maison Nuno Gama, and to Paris, at L’Hotel du ­Collectionneur Arc de Triomphe. A second Parisian sales outlet was also recently added, at the Boutique Le Long du Tage.

In addition to this, the effort of the marketing and graphic design teams in helping to take the brand abroad has also ensured that, since its launch, Bat Eye has grown year after year, to the point where Marco Sousa comments that he couldn’t “have hoped for more” in terms of the success achieved.

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