Nini Andrade Silva is one of the most prestigious interior designers in the world, with works spread over several continents. Born in Funchal, she graduated from the Institute of Visual Arts, Design and Marketing (IADE) in Lisbon and worked in places such as New York, South Africa, London, Paris and Denmark. She is passionate about Madeira and she is proud to take the Portuguese flag to the four corners of the world. A big supporter of “made in Portugal”, she recently embraced yet another challenge – The brands of Portugal.
Nini Andrade de Silva is 58 years old and she developed her career for more than 35 years now. Laughter is always there in a conversation with this Madeiran designer and her enthusiasm is contagious. “My hobby is working. (She laughs) I love to work ”, she assumes without hesitation.
Six years ago, her dream came true, e.g. opening her Design Centre in the port of Funchal, in the old Fort of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, where 25 employees currently work and where the awards for her work in hotels and others are on display, next to the first items for Garouta do Calhau – a prestigious brand inspired in the stones of Madeira Island (pebbles) and also a social cause aimed at assisting the most vulnerable named after this brand.
Recognized, nationally and internationally, as the interior designer of Madeira, Nini Andrade Silva also paints, makes floral arrangements, designs jewellery, clothes and ceramic objects… But what pleases her most is everything related to the creation and, therefore, when asked about this she says she cannot single out a particular art. “I like creating nearly everything, coming up with an idea and creating”, this designer says and she explains: “if it is a painting or a jewel, something that depends on me alone, I can have far more freedom, but when it’s up for the client to decide sometimes it becomes more difficult as I need to convince my client that I’m right”. Oddly enough the projects she was able to develop on her own and freely brought her most of the awards to date.
Nini Andrade Silva has already lost count of the number of awards she received. “There are Awards every year and we have many already. It’s very good because we are recognized and the awards bring more work”, explains the designer.
She inherited her taste for painting from her father. “My father was a true artist, he painted and sang. I don’t know how to sing, unfortunately, I don’t have a good voice (she laughs) but I know how to paint since I was a child. My father told me before he died: Nini, you are an artist, never stop painting, you are my continuation. And I will never forget that”, she recalls.
She tells us that as a child she always loved sports and ballet, she used to swim a roller skate, but now, says Nini Andrade Silva laughing, “my sport is really creating”.
The black or white line is her signature and is there in the decoration of many hotels and her “design centre”, whether in carpets, cushions … “it is a line of roads, of airports and the line of my life”.
As a child, I dreamed of becoming a designer. “I always knew I would study arts, but I always liked helping people and chasing a cause to help people and I thought at some point of becoming a social worker”, says Nini.
Today she does both things. Nini heads the association “A Garouta do Calhau” – an organization with several social projects supporting people young and old. The name of the association was chosen by this interior designer and is closely linked to her painting work, inspired in the pebble boys – name after the kids walking on the shingle beaches of Madeira island some years ago and who, together with the fishermen, used to ask for coins when the ships sailing to South Africa stopped in the port of Funchal. “There was a competition called The Dive and the winner had to pick 16 coins thrown to the sea by the ships’ passengers. Searching for 16 coins on the bottom of the sea is not easy,” explains Nini.
After her first exhibition, entitled “The four seasons” and inspired to a great extent on the flowers of Madeira, the designer had this idea of painting pebbles and called herself “The Pebble Stone Girl”. Today, when she gives lectures or when she paints the proceeds go to several social causes, including the association “A Garouta do Calhau”. “It’s another side of me,” she says.
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Nini Andrade Silva was born in Madeira and her parents, both teachers, had a school. She went to high school in Madeira and headed to Lisbon afterwards to study at IADE.